Community 'numb' in wake of global scrutiny
"THERE'S a numbness and a profound sense of grief in our community this morning."
Clarence Valley councillor Richie Williamson summed up the mood in Grafton on Saturday, as the community came to terms with the reality of the Christchurch terror attack.
"Our hearts have broken, the tears have streamed, the shock is setting in, we cry with the people of Christchurch and New Zealand," the former mayor said.
"An attack on New Zealand is an attack on us all.
"Our nations have a bond, one that has stood the test of time, built in battle, reinforced in peace. What the Anzacs defended was not what happened in Christchurch, that is not us."
The people of Grafton have also had to grapple with the fact the alleged gunman was raised among them.
"It's all too close to home and no one's immune from that," Cr Williamson said.
"Today in Grafton the mood is one of heartbreak, sorrow and disbelief. We all stand with the people of New Zealand. Dare I say, the people of Grafton cry with you. We are all hurting today, New Zealand is hurting today, Grafton is hurting with absolute sorrow."
Acting Mayor Jason Kingsley also sent his condolences to the people of Christchurch on behalf of the Clarence Valley.
"This is a dark day for New Zealand and Australia," Cr Kingsley said.
"Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Christchurch. Grafton and Australia are mourning deeply with you, in particular with the families of the victims."
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis was shaken by the events in New Zealand, a country considered one of the most peaceful on earth and which shares a strong bond with Australia.
"It's a tragedy of indescribable proportions and in a country that is the antithesis of violence.
"New Zealand is one of the safest places on earth and from my perspective the closest place to heaven as you can get.
"It was such a heinous crime at a mosque full of people who were as part of the Christchurch community as much as anyone else.
"We all grieve for the lives that are lost in the community of Christchurch."