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'These tears are not for you' — Defiant statement to Christchurch terrorist named Quote of the Year

A woman's defiant statement to the Christchurch terrorist who killed her father has won Massey University's Quote of the Year 2020.

Sara Qasem with her father, Abdelfattah Qasem, who was killed at Al Noor mosque on March 15, 2019. Source: Supplied

The winning line, "Let it be known these tears are not for you," was spoken by Sara Qasem at the sentencing of Brenton Tarrant in the Christchurch High Court in August.

Qasem, one of the 91 people who gave impact statements, was referring instead to her grief over the death of her father, Abdelfattah Qasem, who was killed at Al Noor mosque on March 15, 2019.

The winner was decided by public vote, with Qasem's line receiving 26.5 per cent of the 2479 votes cast, Massey University said today in a statement.

Qasem said she was stunned that her quote had won the competition.

"I feel honoured that my words have left an impact on someone out there, and that they were able to sympathise and resonate through their compassion and humanity," she said.

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Siham Alsalfiti, who lost her husband Abdelfattah Qasem, and Temel Atacocugu, who was shot nine times, talk about hearing the news. Source: Breakfast

She called her impact statement "one of the most difficult things I've ever done", adding that she "wasn't sure how I could speak to and bring justice to so many in my community; to my own dad, Abdul".

Qasem said while she "sensed myself getting increasingly upset" and "felt an urgency to race through my words and quickly run off the podium", she felt the presence of her father assuring her, "Take your time, cry, be angry, tell him what you think, look him in the eye; pause, Sara, breathe, continue; there is no rush, I'm here."

"It was in these moments where my emotions were at their peak, and it came to me that he needed to know, so I stopped reading," she said.

"I looked him in the eye, and I let him know; I let him know that these tears were mine and my father's, a moment we shared together; they weren't for him. He'd taken enough, he wasn't going to claim this, too."

Massey University speech writing specialist Heather Kaven said the win was not surpising due to New Zealanders' solidarity with the victims of the attacks.

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Siham Alsalfiti lost her husband, Abdelfattah Qasem, in the terror attack. Source: Breakfast

"The scenes are so raw and the emotions so powerful that the words are better felt than explained," she said.

This year's runner-up was Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield's announcement that there were no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand.

The announcement, with slight variations in wording, received 22.2 per cent of the vote.

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Rua Bioscience is the only NZX-listed medical cannabis company with its headquarters in New Zealand. Source: Seven Sharp

"You're on mute," Seven Sharp host Hilary Barry's "jazz cabbage is not on tonight's agenda" and the orange-fronted parakeet's Bird of the Year campaign line "I am the orange face you can trust" came in at third, fourth and fifth respectively.