On Being A New Zealander After The Mosque Shootings

Like most Kiwis I’ve hit rock bottom over the weekend and can’t fathom what has happened in Christchurch.

There’s been too many mass shootings in recent years, but the one that happened in NZ last week shocked me to the core.

Why? Because it happened in New Zealand. This might not make sense to you if you’ve never visited my amazing homeland or lived there.

But what makes this country different is the way it loves, the way the people of Aotearoa TRULY embrace all cultures.

Those of us who grew up in this incredible country don’t think we own it or are better than anyone who lives alongside us on this tiny peaceful island.

So when I first heard someone had opened fire on law-abiding, peaceful people in prayer, I was dumb-founded.

I just couldn’t fathom ANY New Zealander doing that.

So it made more sense when it was revealed a New Zealander hadn’t soullessly gunned down vulnerable worshippers.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

This doesn’t make it better or worse, because regardless of who did it, 50 souls are dead and so many more innocent people are scarred for life.

And if I’m to be honest, I would be less surprised if such a crime happened here in Australia.

There is hidden unrest and a deep-seated racism that exists in this country. I noticed it when I first moved here in 2004. As an outsider I can feel it. And it’s ugly.

I’ve even had a conversation with my husband and said that when (not if) a terrorism attack happens in my city, we’re moving back to New Zealand.

Do the events of last week, New Zealand’s darkest day in history, change this?

No, because I believe that inherently New Zealand is a peaceful nation, with leaders of all ethnicities sharing the same vision for their country.

While they’re not perfect, they certainly don’t have egg on their face, like many in Australia. The growing far-right movement is getting scarily out of control here.

What’s even more unnerving is that most people are far too busy living in Social Media Land and have no idea what’s actually happening in their country.

Everyone is too busy scrolling to actually consider that hate is breeding hate at an extraordinary rate. And that far-right politicians are fueling their fires.

It’s unnerving.

NZ's Mongrel Mob gang consoling a member of New Zealand's Islamic community

NZ’s Mongrel Mob gang consoling a member of New Zealand’s Islamic community

Haters will probably say to me, go back to New Zealand then. But it’s not that simple, all my family is here now.

As for my beloved New Zealanders, we’re mourning. There’s been an outpouring of grief.

For decades we’ve watched as the world has torn itself apart, attacked innocent people and quietly felt safe and secure. Why? Because we’re New Zealanders.

I’m so sorry to all the peace-loving Muslims who seem to be relentlessly punished for the actions of a few extremists.

I, like many Kiwis, feel I owe them a massive apology. Even though it won’t bring back their toddler son, daughter, mother, grandfather, sister, aunty, uncle, niece, cousin, brother or grandmother.

Hate and racism is a plague that threatens to engulf the world. And I deeply fear for the future my children face, because hate breeds hate. And there are people teaching their kids to hate, and it’s a vicious cycle.

It has to stop. It starts with each of us. We have to shun those who hate people because they are different. We have to teach our children to stand up for themselves and those who are victims of racism.

We are all born equal.

Kia Kaha New Zealand.

Comments

  1. Victoria says:

    Beautiful post. Thank You.

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