On Friday 15 March, I watched with growing horror as events unfolded in Christchurch. My immediate concern was for those in the Mosques, as well as friends, family and Xeros we have down south. As the days went by, my thoughts turned to providing meaningful support to our wider Xero whanau and the Christchurch community.
Now, later in the week, I’ve had more time to process so am putting pen to paper. Like many of you, I have been wrestling with a raft of emotions – sorrow, heartache, anger, hope.
To say that New Zealand is grieving is an understatement. The attack on the two Mosques popped the bubble of innocence surrounding the country and ensured we would never be the same again. The fear and pain associated with these events overseas infiltrated our shores, impacting us in a profound way.
The two degrees of separation in New Zealand means that most Kiwis will know someone who knows someone who has been affected. And I think that is what has made such an impact. We are such a small, tight-knit country and while this was unequivocally an attack on Kiwi Muslims, their faith and their way of life, it has been felt much wider than that.
What I have taken heart from though is the outpouring of kindness and aroha that Kiwis have shown. Vigils were set up in a matter of days, Mosques have been showered in flowers and Kiwis around the world are uniting against hate. From darkness there is light. I am reminded of a Muslim verse shared with me – through hardship comes ease. There is something powerful about this.
I have also watched in admiration of how our Prime Minister has responded to this tragedy. She has anchored us as a country and led by example with respect, dignity, compassion and true mana.
To borrow some of her words –
“We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages. And amongst that diversity, we share common values. And the one that we place the currency on right now is our compassion and support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy.”
My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones last week and we stand strong together.
Assalamu alaikum. Peace be unto you.
Kia Kaha Kiwis.
*image supplied by Orewa College