Pat Campbell, who drew the cartoon for the Canberra Times, told BuzzFeed News that he has friends in Christchurch and owns a small block of land just outside the city.
“We love the area,” he said.
“I was thinking of the silver fern and thinking the pinnae (the individual bits coming off the stem) looked like figures, a similar number to the number of victims,” he said.
He then decided to draw the fern but with the silhouettes of people praying, he said.
He drew 49 figures, the same number as the initial death toll.
“There were a lot of silhouettes to draw,” Campbell said. “They just kept coming. It brought home to me the death toll and the destruction one man can do with the right weapons.”
Campbell said that the responses to the image have been positive but sad.
“I did the image, I guess, for myself, but it has resonated with others as well. I’m glad if the image brings comfort or poignancy to people,” he said.
“For me, it was about people doing their own thing, not harming anyone,” he said. “The fern is about people coming together, as one. The fern tied to New Zealand, and they weren’t just Muslims, they were New Zealanders.”