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Thursday 18 December 2014

Lisa Wilkinson interview with Tori Johnson's partner Thomas Zinn

The partner of Tori Johnson, the Lindt café manager shot dead in this week’s Martin Place siege, has remembered him as “humble, generous” man who always put family first.

In an exclusive interview with Channel Nine's Lisa Wilkinson from the Today show (I know that Lisa wouldn't want this post to be about her, but I am not surprised she was chosen to speak with him; that woman is compassion personified), Thomas Zinn, Tori's partner of 14 years, said: “I would like him to be remembered as a humble and very generous person."

Tori was one of 17 people taken hostage and held at gunpoint by self-proclaimed ‘sheik’ Man Haron Monis in Sydney’s Martin Place on Monday.

He added: “He made it very clear that family was the most important thing in our lives and that we have to cherish that and spend enough time with our families. That was an absolute priority.”

Read more and watch the preview clip here, and watch the Today show tomorrow morning (Friday) for the Lisa's full interview with Thomas.


This blog post will be updated with the transcript from the exceptional interview with Lisa.

First, this is the special message from Thomas Zinn to Australia:

"As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family.

We are experiencing unimaginable grief but when we look at the sea of flowers with all the heartfelt messages and the crowds of supports at Martin Place, we know that this grief is shared by the whole country and the rest of the world.

This tragedy will remain with us forever. But the uniting effects of this week only have galvanised our city, our country, and makes us even more prude of Tori and Katrina, and proud of all Australians.

We would like to extend our love and condolences to Katrina's family. To her children, husband, and loved ones. We stand beside you through this difficult time.

We also send our love to the other hostages and their families. We hope that you can recover swiftly from this traumatic experience. We want to thank all of the brave people who were present at the event. In particular, we would like to thank the NSW Police and crime commission, the Australian Federal Police, paramedics, and all of the emergency services that worked tirelessly through the night and made sure that we and all of the other families were taken care of.

We are incredibly moved by your patience, empathy, and dedication. We also want to thank the many people that have supported us, and continue to stand by us through this tragedy. From close friends to complete strangers, the outpouring of love, kindness, and generosity has been overwhelming. The people of Lindt chocolates as well as the people of the Intercontinental Hotels Group have been very supportive. We cannot undo the events of December 16, but it has made our diverse community even stronger and more unified. From the bottom of our heart, thank you all immensely."

Here is the transcript with Thomas's interview with Lisa:

Lisa: Just looking through these photos you can see he's a man very quick to smile.

Thomas: Yes, he is. Probably the most positive human being I've ever met.

Lisa: Everything that we hear about Tori, people just say what an incredibly kind person he was. And he really was. It was no fluke that he was a manager.

Thomas: He was just somebody that people really looked to for guidance. He has been absolutely amazing with his staff. He would always support them, he would coach them. He is always there for them, whether if it is a personal matter or professional matter, and he was the fairest person.

Lisa: If he could see the flowers there at Martin Place right now, do you think he'd be amazed?

Thomas: Yes. Tori… Tori loves flowers. And this is probably the most beautiful thing you that he - and I am sure that he can see it - that he has ever seen. And when I was down there yesterday, I could smell the flowers through Sydney. I think it's just amazing that he has been able to make our city smell like flowers. I think that there is no more beautiful thing that he could have imagined

Lisa: Tori's mum was telling me that when she was at Martin Place yesterday she was looking at all the beautiful messages and the flowers, and she saw in particular one note, one drawing, and it was from Katrina Dawson's daughter. Do you get the feeling she was meant to see that?

Thomas: You know, Katrina's family is as affected as us, and we haven't obviously had contact with them directly yet, it's still early. But we know that they feel exactly like us and we wish them all the best.

Lisa: How would you like him to be remembered?

Thomas: I would like him to be remembered as a humble and very generous person and he really made it clear that family is the most important thing in our lives and have to cherish that, and make sure we spend enough time with our family. That's absolute priority.

Lisa then acknowledged that Thomas was grateful that the campaign - kicked off by the Today show, and specifically by Lisa, although I am sure she'd be loathe to take the credit - to #savethenotes of the kind messages left with and in amongst the flowers will be kept and passed on.

Lisa then added: "And Thomas talked about how incredibly moved he and Tori's family have been by your desire to make sure hat all those messages that have ben left there in Martin Place do get to both Katrina's family and to Tori's and he wanted to say a huge thank you for the love and support that they continue to feel. there's some very difficult days ahead but with what's coming through they know that are greatly strengthened by all of your messages."

Tori's family also released a statement two days ago about their beloved Tori:

“We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for.

We feel heartfelt sorrow for the family of Katrina Dawson.

We’d like to thank not only our friends and loved ones for their support, but the people of Sydney; Australia and those around the world for reaching out with their thoughts and prayers.

Our deepest gratitude to the NSW police, armed forces and paramedics for their tireless efforts.

We ask that the media respects our privacy in this difficult time. Let us all pray for peace on earth.”

The funeral for Tori Johnson will be held on Tuesday, one week after he sadly lost his life.

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