Organisers of a peaceful walk to honour slain woman Blessie Gotingco want to keep her memory alive by holding monthly events.
More than 1000 people took to the streets of Birkdale for Blessie's Walk on May 31, exactly a week after she went missing.
Organiser Adrienne Brunton says the turnout was incredible and exceeded all expectations.
"We never imagined the walk would be so huge."
Brunton and the other organisers now plan to run a challenge every month as a tribute to Blessie, with an "incredible" event planned for the one-year anniversary of her death.
The 56-year-old mother of three went missing on May 24 after catching a bus home from her work in central Auckland.
Her body was discovered hidden in a cemetery just a kilometre away from where she got off the bus.
A 27-year-old man has been charged with murder.
Brunton says the idea for Blessie's Walk came from a group of mums at the school gate at nearby Verrans Primary School.
They only came up with the idea two days before the event.
"It just exceeded everyone's expectations," Brunton says.
Candles, green ribbons and high-visibility vests were all donated by Birkenhead businesses.
Blessie's husband Antonio told the crowd that his family felt blessed "for the love and prayers" directed their way.
Supporters came from as far away as South Auckland to walk from Salisbury Rd to the Birkenhead-Glenfield cemetery where Blessie's body was found.
Many were dressed in green, Blessie's favourite colour.
Brunton had never met the Gotingco family but is now in contact with them daily.
She says they are on a "huge rollercoaster" and are dealing with everything the best they can.
The family was still eating food cooked by Blessie for a week after she disappeared.
"She was such a good cook and mother she had so many meals prepared and frozen, it was just wonderful they had that," Brunton says.
A roster has been set up so someone will always be helping the family with food, cleaning or other chores.
Brunton says support usually starts to disappear after six to 10 weeks.
"That's when people fade away and they're left to deal with this on their own."
Brunton says her biggest message is for people to reach out to their communities.
"Know your neighbours," she says.
"Take them a hot meal if they need it, offer to mow their lawn or just have them over for a cup of tea so you know their names."
Donations can be made to the ANZ Bank Birkenhead Branch account number 06-0115-0296745-00 in the name of Antonio and/or Blesilda Gotingco.
Go to facebook.com and search "Blessie's Walk".
- North Shore Times
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