Christchurch mosque attacks: Father of killed 14yo heralds celebration of victims' lives

The remembrance service held in Christchurch on 29 March last year, two weeks after the terror attacks.
The remembrance service held in Christchurch on 29 March last year, two weeks after the terror attacks. Photo credit: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

By Eleisha Foon for RNZ

A father who lost his 14-year-old son during the Christchurch mosque attacks says people can show support by packing out the National Memorial service.

The shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques on March 15 left 51 people dead and many others injured and traumatised.

John Milne's son Sayyad Milne was one of the people killed at Al Noor Mosque on March 15, 2019.

The Year 10 Cashmere High student was there with his mother for Friday prayers. His mother managed to escape.

John said he dreamed of his son kicking a football in paradise.

"My boy's dream was to be an international goal keeper for Manchester United," Milne said.

He told RNZ his son's prized footballs - signed by his friends and teammates - had become part of his legacy.

To mark the first anniversary of the mosque attacks, a national remembrance service, Ko Tātou, Tātou We Are One, will be held in Christchurch's North Hagley Park, on Sunday, March 15 starting at 3pm.

Although the memorial was expected to be a mournful occasion, Milne said he wanted it to also be a celebration of his son's life and the others who were killed.

The programme for the national remembrance service has been put together with input from those most affected by the attacks, including survivors and families of the victims.

Students from Cashmere High School and Burnside High School will perform music at the service. Two students and an ex-student from Cashmere High School, and one student from Burnside High School, were killed in the attacks.

Local Muslim leaders, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and other dignitaries will also take part in the service, which will be jointly led by the local Muslim community, Christchurch City Council, the Government and Ngāi Tūāhuriri as mana whenua.