Party leaders made statements in the House yesterday on the attack. WOrth sharing some of these.
The 15th of March will now be for ever a day etched in our collective memories. On a quiet Friday afternoon, a man stormed into a place of peaceful worship and took away the lives of 50 people. That quiet Friday afternoon has become our darkest of days. But for the families, it was more than that. It was the day that the simple act of prayer, of practising their Muslim faith and religion, led to the loss of their loved ones’ lives. Those loved ones were brothers, daughters, fathers, and children. They were New Zealanders. They are us. And because they are us, we, as a nation, we mourn them.
As New Zealand woke on 15 March 2019, none of us could have imagined the horror and terror about to be unleashed on our people. As mums and dads, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters in Christchurch went to work or to school or to prayer, none of them thought for a moment that they would return home that night changed for ever. For 50 of the worshipers who entered Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre for Jumu’ah, or Friday prayers, in Christchurch, it would be their last day in this world. These New Zealanders had their lives ended, and all of us changed for ever.
For some, New Zealand had been their home for a long time. They had made their lives here working in our businesses, going to our schools, living in rich and diverse communities, and espousing everything good about our nation. For some, New Zealand was somewhere they found solace in a world full of problems. New Zealand was for them a new, a fresh, opportunity: the chance to live in a country which embraced tolerance, respect, compassion, opportunity, and freedom to be who you want to be. It was for them, as it is for us, the best little country in the world. We let them down, and for that we are sorry.
Friday, 15 March 2019 is the day everything changed in our country—a day when someone from outside our shores attempted to terrorise us and tear us apart. That, we believe, was his objective, and he has failed. Why? Because violent extremism, whatever its origin or form or creed, is utterly rejected by New Zealanders. His creed, like extremists’ anywhere and everywhere, seeks only to destroy; it’s evil and it’s destructive. The Pakistani Foreign Minister, when expressing his country’s sympathies for New Zealand, told me that 77,000 people in his country had died from terrorist-related violence in Pakistan’s recent history. He truly understood how New Zealanders feel, and we’ve had a number of messages in similar vein from Muslim countries all around the world.
I acknowledge the lives cruelly taken and badly injured in our Muslim community by a terrorist attack driven by hatred. We are holding deep love for your families and loved ones, and your entire Muslim communities. We are holding deep love for the city of Christchurch and all of us who are hurting and are angry.
You were praying. You were in the most profoundly peaceful state of harmony and compassion that a human can be in. You were with your children, your elders, your partners and siblings, your friends, and your closest loved ones. You were anchored in the collective love of your community, the collective practice of your sacred traditions under the shelter of your sacred place of worship. Your families have been ripped apart, your hearts broken, your wairua destroyed. As artist Ruby Alice Rose drew: “This is your home. You should have been safe here.”
I extend, not just to those who were attacked, but to every Muslim New Zealander, our sympathy, but also our solidarity. It is important that that solidarity is comprehensive, so let us close ranks around the cherished values of our country. Let me adopt, from the opposite end of our political spectrum, the words of our Prime Minister: “we grieve together. We are one. They are us.”
Normally in New Zealand, all the bad news is in the world section of our newspapers. How could it be that our country is supplying bad news to the papers of the world? It is tempting to say that we have changed forever. Well, cold comfort it may be, but one of our darkest days has also shed light on our true character. Up and down this country have opened up seemingly bottomless wells of love and strength. I’d like to pay tribute to those first responders, including the very first responders who heroically confronted the terrorist practically unarmed. I hope that the Crown suitably recognises you. To those who followed up: the police, the medics, hospital staff, teachers—this Parliament thanks you for your service. To those who have held vigils, created means of affirmation, left flowers, and donated millions of dollars to show the warmth and resilience of our communities.