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Remember March 15

Written By: - Date published: 8:34 am, March 15th, 2020 - 9 comments
Categories: Christchurch Attack, jacinda ardern, law, law and "order", terrorism - Tags:

Twelve months ago the unthinkable happened to Aotearoa New Zealand.  A right wing extremist armed with weapons of mass destruction went on a rampage through a Christchurch mosque and killed 51 human beings and injured another 49.

I can recall the day well.  I had been to Aotea Square at Auckland where thousands and thousands of young people protested against climate change and how it was destroying their future.  Their demands for urgent action cannot be ignored.

Then on the way back on the train I tuned into twitter and saw disturbing tweets that talked about an incident in Christchurch.

The news became worse and worse.  A facebook live streamed video ignited social media.  It was an attack based on prejudice against race and religion and contained all the nutty disturbing thought processes that the internet has been able to bastardise.

The country’s response was swift.  Armed police appeared on the street.  And people joined together.

Jacinda Ardern responded in a most human way, by declaring that they are us and we are one.  She captured the country’s revulsion to what had happened in a very simple but perfect way.

The next morning I was at the Ethkick football competition, a locally organised competition where teams from different communities join together and play the beautiful game.  The organisers had thought about cancelling the event but had decided that it was important that it proceed.  And it was so reassuring to be part of a diverse crowd joined together to celebrate what we share and what makes us distinct.

And over the next week many kiwis reached out to our muslim brothers and sisters.  A group of us westies visited the Mosque in West Auckland to pay our respects and to show solidarity.  This simple act of solidarity was repeated throughout the country.

Since then the gun laws have been tightened.  Some of the parties are paying political games with the second tranche of changes but changes are coming.  Our security infrastructure has been beefed up.

And the shooter has failed in his attempt to ignite a race war.  New Zealand is still a peaceful place, albeit somewhat older and still scarred by the event.

Kia kaha to the local Muslim community.  We are one.

9 comments on “Remember March 15 ”

  1. Ad 1

    +1000 Kia Kaha all New Zealand Muslims

  2. Paaparakauta 2

    The event has shattered the innocence of our relative south pacific paradise. We have to keep a sense of proportion and get on with our daily lives. Covid-19 does not discriminate.

  3. observer 3

    I think back to the memorial service in Hagley Park last year, when a young girl went on stage and asked us to remember her father, saying simply: "He was a very nice man." I was moved to tears, literally.

    Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves: it's the victims that matter.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Well said Mickysavage.

    So many angles of the Mosque massacres have been examined that it is superfluous to say too much more really…but…I was jolted while listening to an “Insight” programme on RNZ this morning, by the fact that the shooter used–hollow point ammunition–which is why many injured survivors lives are such misery. Massive soft tissue and nerve damage are the purpose of that bullet design.

    The likes of the COLFO supporters full of special pleading on The Standard last week should hang their heads.

  5. Anker 5

    My condolences to the Muslim community. Their suffering only began on March 15th 2019.

    i hope they still feel the love and support of all New Zealanders every day in their lives here

  6. McFlock 6

    That day and its aftermath really showed us at our worst and at our best.

    Such pointless, stupid, painful, intentional acts faced with so many instances of love, strength, discipline, compassion, and bravery.

  7. Ad 7

    I am astonished by the amount of change we are having to absorb as a country and as peoples over such a short time. We are going to emerge out of this a quite different people.

    When the shootings happened, at our workplace we had a ceremony and all brought dinner, and one of our Muslim team did the prayers. I felt like chiming in with a Veni Sancti Spiritus of my own, but actually resonant silence was just as powerful … before we all went straight into the food.

    The double moment of Coronavirus and the the Christchurch massacre remembrance shows the danger – but where the danger lies, there the saving power also grows.

    The people of Christchurch in particular represent the new phase of humility that we have to face together: so much rebuilding of faith and trust in each other. Our ability to physically rebuild a whole city, the ability of the Canterbury health system and mental health to withstand massive shocks – this is a kind of multiple damage that together mark Cantabrians for good.

    Now this is compounded by the government having to command society with the kind of force that is usually reserved for war mobilization. The shape of this suffering is going to unite us quite powerfully.

    It is a truly weird thing to say but I think we are facing Corona Virus well because the Christchurch and North Canterbury earthquakes, together with the Christchurch massacre, have drilled crisis management into our government and major business practices. That's a pretty dark redemption, but the successive crisis have never induced panic.

    That's a signal of our collective strength.

    All talk of more minor policy goals – and even the budget of May 14th – are now truly relegated. We are just having to push our already damaged selves and our damaged communities through yet another crisis.

    Instruments for sustaining social order that we haven't had to use for a while are being used and tested.

    We are a collectively bloodied and damaged people right now, but we are going through that damage together. It's not just a good shared grief, it's a resolute strength that so many of these episodes of real national crisis are continuing to rebuild our state, rebuild our expectations of national leadership, rebuild our expectations of each other in social discourse and in health behavior and ethical behaviour.

    It's such a stark turnaround to lose some of our core shared communal rituals: all major sport, Pacifika, arts festivals, tour ships, inbound aircraft: gone for now. We will collectively function at quite a low ebb, both in the collective loss as a country and as we lose so much of what makes us our modern society.

    All of it together is a massive moment for hard and deep reflection: we know what we have lost. So what collectively do we gain?

    That's the question that all of us can face, answer, and renew our lives with. We are becoming a different kind of New Zealand – and I'm not worried about what that difference means because all signs show that we are in it together.

    I am convinced that our common grief will give us enough energy to propel us out of this.

    I am convinced because the Muslims and the Cantabrians have led the way.

  8. adam 8

    I do fear like Aramoana before it, that the right wing politicians who want power at any cost – will once again sweep any meaningful changes under the table.

    If like myself and many others have said for years that the gun laws in this country were to lax, and that another massacre was only a matter of "when" and not "if".

    Whilst the restriction on weapons and guns has been OK this time round, it is still not enough. There is no need for these type of weapons in our communities – full stop.

    We are seeing political football once again being played with people lives.

    Begs the question, I wonder if one of the relatives of those killed in this massacre – will be repeating what I have written in 30 odd years time?

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