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21 September 2023, 7:26am
Media Release

AFP honours Christchurch community and local emergency services

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The AFP and New Zealand Police have paid tribute to the victims of the 2019 Christchurch attacks in a commemorative ceremony honouring those who lost their lives, along with the emergency services and communities affected by the tragedy.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and members from the AFP Southern Command Community Liaison Team (CLT) travelled to New Zealand to attend the special event held in Christchurch on Wednesday 20 September, 2023.

Commissioner Kershaw presented NZ Police Deputy Commissioner Wallace Haumaha, families of victims and the Christchurch community with a handmade mosaic artwork.

The artwork was created by Australians from across all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds to honour those impacted by the incident.

On 15 March 2019, terrorist attacks at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch resulted in the death of 51 people.

In 2020, in support and commemoration of the victims of these attacks, the AFP Southern Command CLT launched the Christchurch Mosaic Project to create a largescale artwork acknowledging the tragic loss of life and outpouring of global support to New Zealand.

The mosaic design incorporates New Zealand’s iconic silver fern emerging from a central mandala representing the generational growth of a community.

The project, spearheaded by CLT team member and artist Anisa Sharif, conducted a series of workshops across Victoria, Australia to create several large mosaic artworks to present to the New Zealand community, with the aim of challenging Ideologically Motivated Extremism (IME) through community engagement.

The artwork, created piece by piece over the course of two years including during COVID lockdowns, saw hundreds of Australians, including AFP and emergency service members, contribute. It was transported all over Melbourne in the back of a police vehicle to allow community members from different faiths and ethnicities to be involved.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said that in March 2019, the AFP stood side-by-side with its New Zealand colleagues.

“The AFP deployed more than 60 people in a multi-tiered response, including our Family Investigation Liaison Officers (FILO) to collect forensic evidence and provide support to families.

“Our hearts were heavy, but our mission never wavered, further strengthening the bond between our blue family,” he said.

“The AFP was honoured to stand with our New Zealand counterparts, who, like the broader New Zealand community, demonstrated exceptional resilience and unity in the wake of such a senseless tragedy.

“I am honoured to present these memorial artworks in recognition of the families of victims, the police and other emergency services who responded to this tragic event.”

Commissioner Kershaw said the artworks were a token of the AFP and the Australian community’s ongoing support for the people of New Zealand.

“These memorial artworks were created piece by piece by individuals across many faiths and cultures throughout Australia,” Commissioner Kershaw said.

“Just like our communities, they truly do symbolise thousands of individual pieces coming together to create a unified whole. We hope that they remain a poignant reminder that together we are stronger.”

New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner Wallace Haumaha said partner relationships were integral in the response to the tragic events of 15 March 2019.

“The support of our Australian Police partners contributed to the wellbeing of the Muslim community and wider Christchurch communities at a time of great need,” he said.

“The gifting of these taonga (treasure) today is a true example of the strength we take when we all work together.

“We thank all those who have worked so hard to create this symbol of our shared commitment to building peaceful, safe and inclusive communities.”


The artwork was created by Australians from across all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds to honour those impacted by the incident.

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