Wellington mourns for Paris

(Photos: Mark Mitchell)

Hundreds of people have gathered at Wellington's Civic Square, where the French flag flies at half-mast today, to commemorate victims of Saturday's Paris terrorist attacks.

Sombre French music is playing and the crowd is subdued, with most standing silently or talking quietly.

Christoff Buenger and his girlfriend Judith Fischer, both from Germany, said the tragedy hit close to home.

The travelling couple said they had friends who's studied in Paris, an Mr Buenger knew the neighbourhoods where some of the attacks happened.

"It's too close to home," he said. "Everything's crazy."

The couple said they were shocked to learn of the attacks.

Mr Buenger said he remembered when the news broke, he thought: "They're kidding us. It's unbelievable."

Many in the crowd are wearing French flags, or have brought the Tricolore along.

"Cities around the world are standing up for our right to be free," Mayor Celia Wade-Brown told the crowd.

"We stand with Paris. We stand as global citizens."

French Ambassador to New Zealand Florence Jean Blanc Risler read the names of some of the known victims, leading some in the crowd to cry.

"Most of the victims were barely 30," she said. "Tonight we stand in support of them all ... and for those who are fighting for their lives."

She New Zealanders had shown "extraordinary compassion" in the last few days.

Ronain Louis, originally from Nice but now a Wellington resident, said he was attending the memorial to show support for his countrymen 20,000 kilometres away.

"I can't imagine the stress, the tension, and fear they are feeling," he said.

"This is one way of showing we haven't forgotten."

Civic Square then fell quiet as a minute's silence was held.

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