Hotel donates $15k to Christchurch mosque survivor

Yama Nabi - Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A Queenstown hotel has donated $15,000 to a man traumatised by the Christchurch terror attacks.

Yama Nabi was running late for prayer on 15 March, so arrived at Al Noor mosque moments after a gunman shot 44 people dead there. One of them was his father.

The Rees Hotel chief executive Mark Rose read two RNZ stories about how Mr Nabi was having difficulty obtaining financial support because he was not physically injured.

They detailed how Mr Nabi was struggling to deal with blood and animal carcasses in his job at the meatworks after seeing bodies and pools of blood at the mosque. He said he had no choice but to return to work as Victim Support had only given him a small payment, and ACC had rejected his claim as it only covers mental injury under very specific circumstances.

Mr Rose shared the stories with colleagues at The Rees Hotel and they agreed - money they had raised shortly after the attacks, by holding a fund-raising dinner and auctioning items donated by the hotel's suppliers, should go to Mr Nabi.

"We felt it was a much better fit to give him the money as he was so in need, and New Zealand doesn't support people with mental health issues and we all feel that's not right."

Mr Nabi said he was surprised, humbled and grateful, and wanted RNZ to publicise the donation to show how much good there was in New Zealand.

"I would like to say thank you very much. It means a lot that people care," he said.

Mr Nabi said he would give the money to his mother and let her decide what should be done with it.

He said his mother had married his father when she was 17, and was financially dependent on him.

"If he made a $1000 or $5 or $10, he'd go, 'here you go, sweetie, this is for you'."

"He was an angel for Mum," he said.

Mr Rose said the hotel's staff felt close to the Muslim community, as they host many Muslim guests and buy Halal meat from Christchurch. They were devastated by the mosque attacks, he said.

Mr Rose had invited Mr Nabi to stay at the hotel.

"We really hope he can find some time and bring his family down to stay with us, because that will be a complete break for him."

Mr Nabi said thinking about the donation made him feel like crying as it showed how much love and support there was for Christchurch's Muslim community.

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