Tree planting pays respects to terror attack victims

BIG TURNOUT: About 100 volunteers were involved in the planting of 51 trees to remember the March 15 terror attack victims, including the family of Sayyad Milne.

Fifty-one trees bursting with colour will soon stand tall in Cass Bay to remember those who were killed in the March 15 terror attacks.

Among displays of red, green and pink – kowhai trees will pay tribute to 14-year-old victim Sayyad Milne, whose favourite colour was yellow.

A planting event held at Pony Point Reserve on Sunday was the idea of nine-year-old Harry Tayler, of Cass Bay, who adored Sayyad during their “special” three-year friendship.

Sayyad was a senior at Harry’s current school, Lyttelton Primary School, two years ago before he moved on to Cashmere High School.

Upset after losing Sayyad, Harry decided to fundraise $420 for the tree seedlings
himself by collecting donations and reselling used bikes.

About 100 volunteers were involved, including Sayyad’s family, residents, members of the Active Muslim Explorers rising leaders and Canterbury University’s Muslim Students’ Association.

Before he died, Sayyad was a part of AME with his sister, Cahaya, and his brother, Shuayb.

AME is a programme for intermediate to high school students, started in 2016 to encourage young people to become role models for their peers in the community.

Sayyad’s mother, Noraini, said she was proud her son showed the qualities of a leader.

Cass Bay Reserve Management Committee chairwoman Jenny Healey organised the planting day.

“There was an amazing atmosphere and warmth which could be felt during the event,” she said.

She said planting colourful trees was chosen as a useful
way to pay respect to the victims, as it would attract and feed birds and provide a tranquil space for the Muslim community to visit.

It also tied in with the Muslim belief that planting trees provides a gift of service.

At the event, Harry was gifted Sayyad’s football by his father.

The ball, which was Sayyad’s 14th-birthday present, was placed at the memorial wall at Al Noor Mosque following March 15.

Sayyad loved football and aimed to play professionally overseas.