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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

WEDNESDAY, 20 MARCH 2019

The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

MOTIONS

Christchurch Mosques Terror Attacks—Condolence

Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): I move, That this House express its sorrow to the victims, families, and communities of the terrorist attack on the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, promise to protect Muslim New Zealanders and their right to be safe from fear, assert that they are us, and acknowledge the effect of the tragedy on the whole of New Zealand.

Al salam Alaikum.

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The 15th of March is New Zealand’s day of infamy. We experienced an unprecedented act of violence, hatred, and sheer evil that will be carried in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders for ever. As the Prime Minister has said, this act of terrorism committed by an individual spreading a message of hate is not who we are.

To the families and friends of those who lost their lives, to the Muslim and wider community, and to all who have been affected by this, as we say in Māori,

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—it’s about all of us, together. Your loss is our loss. We all grieve with you.

A week is yet to pass since the attack on New Zealand. We still stand in the long shadow cast by our darkest day. To emerge into the world of light,

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, as we say in Māori, we must follow a path opposite to the one the terrorist wished us to follow and, instead, go down a pathway of empathy, compassion, and love,

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—to one another.

It would be easy to talk of leadership based on empathy, love, and compassion as soft and weak and fluffy, but in the last few days, we have seen the opposite to be true. Love and compassion have been the most prevalent leadership traits demonstrated at our highest level, and it has been proven that those traits are able to coexist alongside clarity of thought, decisiveness, and steely resolve. If we men are to be honest, the leadership our country has seen since 15 March—that is, love, compassion, and empathy alongside decisiveness and resolve—is the mix of leadership qualities best demonstrated on a day-to-day basis by mothers around the world. We can learn from this.

Many of those taken from us are from our refugee and migrant communities. Christchurch was their home. They are us, but the individual who carried out this act of terror is not.

I want to share some words that stuck out for me when I was in Christchurch with the Prime Minister’s delegation the day after our darkest of days. These are the words of the Ngāi Tahu rangatira Matiaha Tiramōrehu written in a letter he sent Queen Victoria in 1857. These words are now etched on the glass windows of the Christchurch City Council. They are powerful words, speaking of love, justice, spirituality, safety and security, equality and peace. They were written 150 years ago, in a bilingual context, and they are equally as relevant to our multicultural New Zealand of today.

Matiaha Tiramōrehu said—translated from Māori—”This was the command thy love laid upon these Governors. That the law be made one, that the commandments be made one, that the nation be made one, that the white skin be made just as equal with the dark skin. And to lay down the love of thy graciousness to the [people] that they dwell happily and that all men might enjoy a peaceful life”. I think these words serve as a poignant message now; a message from the city of Christchurch to itself; a message from our past to our present that in these sad times, the community has come together to embrace one another, to show strength, to defy hatred and racism, and to mourn and show unity with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Indeed, that all New Zealanders have drawn closer together in the face of this assault on the values we hold dear: community, tolerance, and compassion. That the New Zealand of more than 200 ethnicities and 160 languages utterly rejects the values and ideologies behind last Friday’s attack.

I must commend the dignified response Ngāi Tahu has shown in the days following this tragedy. I believe some of their staff are Muslim and were directly impacted by the attack. Ngāi Tahu’s wishes were twofold: one, to dignify the dead, and, two, to support the living in whatever way they are required. As we walk out from the darkness of the shadow of last Friday’s events towards the light, we must walk together as New Zealanders, acknowledging, embracing, and celebrating our differences, but still New Zealanders all the same, so that we are one and they are us.

MIL OSI