The major earthquake was on the 22nd of February 2011. Not sure if 8 years and 3 weeks is a very significant anniversary; "a stopped clock..."
It also appears that this was first planned to occur in Dunedin (where the main accused was living), then Ashburton (a small rural town south of Christchurch), before finally deciding on Christchurch. You pass through all of these places in a 5 hour drive up State Highway 1.
It seems more like New Zealand itself was picked as a political statement of bringing us into this whole world debate; to show that "nowhere is safe", even this relatively non-aligned country. Though to "protest" against immigration when you are in fact an immigrant yourself, in one most recent countries in the world to be colonised by Europeans shows the degree of intelligence on display here..
There has never been anything like this happen here. Christchurch is my hometown and I walked past one of these mosques every day for years, very sad and surreal. Everything in in high alert; New Zealand is very sheltered. I left work yesterday (in another city on another island) to find a bomb squad outside my building detonating suspicious bags outside the train station.