Community marches for Blessie
More than 1000 North Shore residents took to their streets tonight to support the family of slain Auckland woman Blessie Gotingco.
Many of the crowd were decked out in green, the 56-year-old's favourite colour, as they solemnly marched from Birkdale Primary School to the Eskdale Cemetery, in Birkdale on Auckland's North Shore.
Blessie went missing last Saturday night after catching a bus home from her work in central Auckland.
The 56-year-old mother of three was not seen alive again.
Her body was discovered on Monday hidden in a cemetary just a kilometre away from where she got off the bus to walk home.
A 27-year -old man who lived in the community has been charged with murder and appeared in court during the week.
Blessie's husband Antonio told the crowd that his family felt blessed ''for the love and prayers'' that had been directed their way.
He said most of the wellwishers were people the Gotingco family did not even know.
Memorial march organiser Kerrin Hunter, a mother of two daughters, said Gotingco's death had sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community.
''We have all been really touched by this. It could have been any one of us,'' she said.
''We feel very moved by it. We wanted to do something to put some positive energy back into our streets ... we want to light up the night, think of Blessie and think of her family.''
The turnout for the memorial march exceeded the number organisers had hoped would attend.
The netball courts at Birkdale Primary School were over-flowing, with about 200 people unable to get through the gates to hear Antonio and a memorial organiser speak to the crowd.
Originally it was planned that marchers would walk on footpaths leading to the nearby cemetery.
But the turnout was so large police allowed them to walk up the middle of the street, temporarily blocking motor vehicle access.
On Thursday, Antonio spoke of how his slain wife was the ''light of our home''.
''We are just trying to pretend everything is OK but deep inside we are broken hearted,'' he said.
''We have been robbed. I think she is gone too soon. She is a very good wife, mother and grandmother. A good sister, good friend and so much more that I can't even bring myself to describe. She is the light of our home.''
The Gotingco family did not continue to the cemetery where priests and local kaumatua performed a blessing.