'Love, not hate': Thousands march against racism in Auckland

More than 1000 Aucklanders marched through the city on Sunday to show support for Cantabrians and stand up against racism.

The crowd swarmed Queen St brandishing signs with messages of support - 'love not hate' was the motto of the day.

When words fell short, a minute of silence communicated what everyone was feeling.

People said they were desperate never to see a repeat of the tragedy.

"We are racist and we need to change," one told Newshub.

"It's very hard for me to move, but I wanted to make the effort because New Zealand got very complacent," said another.

One said as an immigrant herself, she felt personally affected because "it could have been me being shot".

It was a defiant display of diversity and unity to show Christchurch Auckland is standing with them, and to show the world New Zealand is standing up against racism.

"I feel really bad that it's taken 50 lives to wake everyone up in this country," organiser Anu Kaloti said.

She said New Zealand needs to do something about its failure to address racism.

"Be it soft undertones, or full-blown physical attacks, it's everywhere. We see it all around us."

Many at the rally said they've felt helpless over the past week watching the suffering in Christchurch, and coming out in protest was their way of showing support.

"I want to show the world it's not okay to shoot people and it's good to be nice," one young participant said.