With defiance, great sadness and a firmness of faith, two dozen victims of the Christchurch Mosque terror attacks gave their victim impact statements at the High Court on Monday.
Gamal Fouda, the Imam at Al Noor mosque, where 44 worshippers were killed in last year's shooting, led the tributes to the dead.
Mr Fouda was at the pulpit on March 15 last year when Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant burst into his house of worship, opening fire.
On Monday, he was just metres from Tarrant, telling the white supremacist his wanton murder achieved the opposite of what he wanted.
"The actions of the terrorist have changed Christchurch and New Zealand," Mr Fouda said.
"There has been much change within our community but I love New Zealand and our society showed love and support for us.
"Al Noor Mosque has grown and I believe our community is much more connected with people in Christchurch, New Zealand and worldwide.
"If you have done anything ... the community is closer with your evil actions."
In the days after the attack, both Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre were overwhelmed with support from locals, with assembled flowers and tributes stretching for hundreds of metres around the buildings.
Mr Fouda said it "gave power to all of us Muslims and the non-Muslims in New Zealand".
"New Zealand is seen by the world as a model of compassion, love and harmony ... and the terrorist was seen as a criminal," Mr Fouda said.
Mr Fouda's testimony was followed by several other victims; some who allowed their statements to be read by victim support officers.
Speaking through an interpreter, Khaled Majed Abdel Rauf Alnobani revealed the unshakeable trauma that remains with him after escaping from Al Noor mosque.
"I have felt disappointment for not being able to help more people. What happened was so unexpected and I still feel shocked by what I saw," he said.
"I have not returned to regular work because I am struggling with everyday life.
"If I think about everything that happened I am always sad. I'm depressed. I'm frustrated that someone has taken away my happiness."
Before leaving his station, Mr Alnobani looked towards Tarrant and delivered his own riposte.
"We have become more united. You have made that. And thank you for that," he said.
Others appeared still cloaked in a raw grief.
Saira Bibi Patel was with her husband Musa Vali Suleman Patel at the Linwood Islamic Centre during the attack.
"I knew that we were going to die within seconds ... I put my arms around my husband so we could die together," she said in a pre-recorded statement from Melbourne.
"I saw blood coming from his mouth and nose. I thought he had had a heart attack but then I realised he had been shot.
"It was extremely painful to feel so helpless while watching your soulmate breathe his last breath.
"Now I am in imprisonment with my sadness and I hate that I am called a widow.
"I keep searching for my husband's beautiful face in crowds but it is nowhere to be seen."