GRIEVING CITY: The Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, one of the scenes of the terrorist shooting last Friday in which up to 50 people were killed. New Zealanders in the Fraser Coast area have expressed their shock at the attack.
GRIEVING CITY: The Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, one of the scenes of the terrorist shooting last Friday in which up to 50 people were killed. New Zealanders in the Fraser Coast area have expressed their shock at the attack. MARTIN HUNTER

Coast New Zealanders devastated by Christchurch attacks

FOR Hervey Bay's Sandra Holebrook, Friday's horrific terrorist attack has left an indelible mark on one of her favourite cities.

Ms Holebrook grew up in Auckland and always thought of South Island city Christchurch as a safe and peaceful place.

Reading the horrifying details of Friday's terror attack on the city's mosques hit hard for the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president.

The devastating shooting, carried out by a Grafton gunman, left up to 50 people dead and 48 others injured.

Having travelled extensively to Christchurch in her youth, Ms Holebrook said she was heartened to see the Australian and international communities united in solidarity.

Members of the Fraser Coast community, including New Zealand expats, business owners and Muslim groups, have voiced their sorrow in the wake of the massacre.

Ms Holebrook said she felt particularly attached to the suffering in Christchurch after she helped a friend move her mother there last week. The attack unfolded close to where her friend's mother lived.

With the city still recovering from earthquakes in 2011, Ms Holebrook said the attack had left its residents with deep emotional trauma on top of physical suffering.

"It's appalling negative energy being poured into a place still recovering,” Ms Holebrook said. "The community has been pulled apart emotionally and traumatically by a killer.

"To have something like this happen in such a small city shows how vulnerable we really are.”

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Grafton man, was charged with murder over the attack and faced court on Saturday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since vowed to change gun laws.

She said the country and its citizens condemned "the ideology of the people who did this”.

Ms Holebrook said Ms Ardern's response was the right message to send.

"Every single one of those people was a New Zealander,” she said.

"Ardern wasn't trying to create segregation... she was saying the right things that need to happen.”

Businesses have also voiced their solidarity over the incident, with Pialba's Kiwi Shop and Pet Supplies representatives offering prayers and love for the people affected.

"Both New Zealand and Australia are multicultural societies and that is the way it should be,” the business owners posted on Facebook on Friday.

"The vile individuals involved in (Friday's) attack have no place in our society and we all stand united.”

Flowers and letters of support were left outside the Islamic prayer hall on Tooth St, Pialba after the attack.

The Chronicle reached out to members of the Fraser Coast's Muslim community for comment but had not received a response by the time of going to press.