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What Happened To The Giant Floral Tributes At Christchurch?

It started the day after the massacre. At police cordons, and outside the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

People started laying bouquets, soft toys, paintings and messages of love and defiance, in memory of the victims who were wounded and killed by the terrorist on the March 15th.

A handwritten note displayed among flowers during a vigil for the Christchurch victims. Photo: AAP.

A month on, the floral wall of colour was looking tired. The city’s director of the Botanic Gardens, Wolfgang Bopp, took charge of finding a new home for the offerings, helped by dozens of volunteers.

“What we did after about five weeks or so, we started to actually take the oldest tributes away and had a large number of volunteers involved,” Bopp told 10 News First.

“The university got involved, as well as lots of people helping in various ways.”

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“All the flowers we have are now being composted so we’ve got, probably in two months time, compost that the Muslim community can then use, maybe in mosques or whatever they wish.”

All the soft toys left at the memorial were collected and cleaned free of charge by local company Canterbury Linen. The teddies were then given to the Muslim community, and handed to children at the end of Ramadan earlier this month.

christchurch tribute
All of the soft toys left in tribute were washed. Photo: Christchurch City Council Newsline.
Christchurch tribute
The toys were handed out to children at the end of Ramadan. Photo: Christchurch City Council Newsline.

Nothing left as a symbol of hope for victims has gone to waste, Bopp said.

“The ribbons that came with the flowers, they’ve all been separated and they’re now with an artist, she’s cleaning them and over time she’s looking to turn them into an artwork," he said.

“Some of the cellophane, some of the paper that hasn’t been written on, that’s been given to an organisation that do what they call 'Seeds for Love', where they turn paper into paper mache and then impregnate it with seeds, and you can buy that and grow plants from it.”

Tributes are still being laid outside the gardens, and the City Council will continue to look after what can be archived or recycled.

“You don’t ever want anything like that to happen. But it’s nice when it does happen, sadly, to see that the world is with you and supports you.”

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