I’m currently in London and woke up on Friday morning to the unbelievable news that there had been a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch – a city I have lived in for 28 years of my life. Like most Kiwis – at home and around the world – I have followed the news of the terrorist attack with a range of feelings – shock, anger, profound sadness, disbelief, pain, shame, and empathy for the families and loved ones of those who were murdered and injured.

It’s so difficult to know what to say at times like these, and words often fail to convey what we mean to when we are so confused, all at sea, while a madman with weapons has inacted such a monstrous act on Kiwi citizens. While those murdered were chosen on the basis of their religion, they are New Zealanders.  They are us, and they were murdered and injured in one of the safest, and most tolerant countries in the world. Or so we thought.

The world is in a strange and dangerous place right now – where fundamenalist idelogies are influencing terrible acts and dividing us when we should all stand together.

“Since a lunatic decided to create death and mayhem, fuelled by notions of hatred and difference, I have been so heartened by the many, many stories of Kiwis speaking and acting upon our opposition to hatred.”

And that’s what I will personally take from this horrendous act – the conections and the healing of New Zealanders, reaching out to each other, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or origin. Since a lunatic decided to create death and mayhem, fuelled by notions of hatred and difference, I have been so heartened by the many, many stories of Kiwis speaking and acting upon our opposition to hatred.

While I am so far from home, I have been comforted by the thousands of New Zealanders, who have gathered at vigils to show support to those singled out in our community, by those who have given their time, their money and what they can spare, to do whatever they can to offer some comfort to those engulfed in unimaginable pain and loss.

“She has exemplified the best of us in a manner that we wish all leaders would, whatever the circumstances. 

I am also so very grateful that our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has shouldered the gamut of emotions so many of us are feeling right now, and represented us in such a kind, thoughtful and genuine way. She has exemplified the best of us in a manner that we wish all leaders would, whatever the circumstances.

Some of us feel shame right now, that this could have happened on our shores – that someone who lived amongst us could decide to unleash such horror with seemingly no regret. I understand that emotion completely, but it is self defeating and will pass. Personally, I have never felt prouder to be a New Zealander. To see how so many Kiwis have chosen love and togetherness, rather than further division is just wonderful. I have no doubt that this disgusting terrorist act will create the very opposite of what this fundamentalist moron hoped to achieve.

President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ Mustafa Farouk, as reported in The Herald said: ” . . .right-wing extremism had wanted to bring hatred and division to New Zealand communities – but they had ‘failed woefully. What they have done, if anything, has increased the love and feeling we have for our country, and the tremendous outpouring of love, aroha, in New Zealand.'” (Source: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12213946)

“After two devasting earthquakes that changed Christchurch forever, this carnival of hatred will also create new dialogues about how we can live together in more supportive and tolerant ways.”

After two devasting earthquakes that changed Christchurch forever, this carnival of hatred will also create new dialogues about how we can live together in more supportive and tolerant ways. We will move from the useless and pointless divisions of left and right, to a more beneficial undertanding that we all share this beautiful planet and must live together in love and understanding, not hatred and violence.