The alleged white supremacist accused in the mosque massacres chose to live in one of the least ethnically diverse places in New Zealand.
The far South Island New Zealand city of Dunedin, just 5000km from the South Pole, has a remarkable 88.3 per cent of its population originating from Europe.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, who lived there for the last two to three years, left Australia for New Zealand to prepare and “train”, so says his 74-page manifesto titled “The Great Replacement”.
Tarrant is accused of the inconceivable act of terrorism in Christchurch on Friday that left 50 dead. But, according to his manifesto, “New Zealand was not the original choice for attack”.
“I only arrived to New Zealand to live temporarily whilst I planned and trained,” he wrote.
“But I soon found out that New Zealand was a target rich of an environment as anywhere else in the West.”
The manifesto goes on to say Dunedin’s mosque was the alleged shooter’s first planned target.
Al Huda mosque is an easy eight-minute drive from where Tarrant was living, in south Dunedin.
In truth, any attack on Al Huda might have been more lethal with the masjid having just one chamber. This compares with the several rooms inside Al Noor mosque where the first attack took place and where 42 people died. Some people were able to flee, but it was also revealed yesterday that about 30 women and children were trapped in an adjoining prayer room as the attacker murdered their friends and family.
Al Huda was Brenton Tarrant’s original target. Picture: Joe Allison/Allison Images/news.com.auSource:news.com.au
A young girl lays flowers outside Al Huda mosque at Dunedin, New Zealand on Saturday. Picture: Joe Allison/Allison Images/news.com.auSource:news.com.au
As New Zealand welcomed Muslims over its borders and some settled in Dunedin, the need for a mosque became immediate.
Muslim students were also accepted at Otago University, and with hard work the community saved and struggled for more than five years.
They bought a property on Clyde Street, in the heart of the student district.
If his manifesto is true, Tarrant was eyeing off Al Huda as a target.
The manifesto says, “Originally the mosque in Dunedin was the main target, particularly after watching the video on their Facebook page.”
The purported sin of the Al Huda mosque had been to post a video saying it was “only for Muslims”.
That, apparently, to the gunman, “proved their knowledge of their actions, and their guilt”.
The manifesto goes on to say Christchurch became the next focus after a trip there from Dunedin revealed Al Noor mosque was located inside a former Christian church.
It is alleged a further mosque mentioned in the manifesto at Ashburton, which lies between Dunedin and Christchurch, was also a target.
Dunedin is the farthest city from London and yet has strong historical and demographical ties with the UK, in particular Scotland.
Tarrant, from the NSW regional town of Grafton, travelled the world and ended up in the city that ethnically is similar to his own origins.
In his manifesto, Tarrant states he is from a “working class, low-income family. My parents are of Scottish, Irish and English stock”.
Dunedin is less ethnically diverse than New Zealand as a whole with the vast majority originating from Europe.
The highest percentage are from the UK, followed by Australia, and among its Maori street and place names are a heavy sprinkling of Scottish locations.
Dunedin is actually Gaelic for the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Church of Scotland missionaries settled in Dunedin in 1848 to escape Catholicism and establish a godly society.
Perhaps its distance, down in the wild and remote beauty of the Otago Peninsula, is what has helped keep Dunedin predominantly Anglo.
Tarrant, a personal trainer by trade, relocated and set himself up in south Dunedin, the city’s more working class area.
Tarrant secured an old, state house, one-time social housing now privately rented and popular with young people and students. Dunedin’s state houses are long homes divided into two flats.
His pale blue weatherboard rental sits atop a rise in Andersons Bay, on one of the hills that surround Dunedin, built on an ancient volcanic crater by the sea.
In winter, thick freezing ground fogs and howling winds can engulf Dunedin.
But its Pacific Ocean microclimate can make for a pleasant summer with up to 30 degree temperatures: Tarrant would not have found it hard to acclimatise.
His rental house cost $280 a week, he owned at least one vehicle, a grey van allegedly used in the shootings last week, which he drove the 50km south to shoot at the Bruce Rifle Club for target practice.
Tarrant was seen regularly shopping at Countdown, a Woolworths supermarket 3km from his home to buy food.
He trained at a South Dunedin gym. No details have emerged of Tarrant working in Dunedin, so it is unclear what funded his lifestyle.
While living in New Zealand, Tarrant also travelled to Bulgaria, Turkey, Bosnia and Croatia.
Tarrant is believed to have relinquished his lease on the blue weatherboard house in Somerville Street, Dunedin, and on March 5, nine days before the attack, it was open for inspection.
On March 12, Tarrant posted multiple memes on social media of cartoon knights and of Kentucky City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
On the afternoon of March 15, Tarrant was taken into custody after police rammed his vehicle and handcuffed him in a Christchurch street.
In his car allegedly were two gas bombs, destined it has been claimed for the trip home, via Ashburton, a further 90km down the road on the 360km trip down the highway back to Dunedin.
On Sunday, less than 48 hours after the Christchurch massacres, Al Huda mosque opened its doors to the community.
Hundreds of locals of various backgrounds, including white Anglo residents, gathered and hugged their Muslim brothers and sisters and pledged their support.
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