E rau rangatira mā, e ngā reo, e
Tēnā koutou katoa
[I acknowledge amongst us today our distinguished leaders, speakers
and those who bear authority]
Ngāi Tahu Whānui, tēnā koutou
[My greetings to the whole of Ngāi Tahu]
E papaki tū ana ngā tai o maumahara ki runga o Ōtautahi
[The tides of remembrance flow over Christchurch today]
Haere mai tātou me te aroha,
[So let us gather with love.]
Me te rangimārie, ki te whānau nei,
[In peace, for this family,]
E ora mārire ai anō rātau,
[So that they may truly live again,]
E ora mārire ai anō, tātou katoa.
[So that we all may truly live again.]
We gather here, 14 days on from our
darkest of hours. In the days that have followed the terrorist
attack on the 15th of March, we have often found ourselves without
What words adequately express the pain
and suffering of 50 men, women and children lost, and so many
injured? What words capture the anguish of our Muslim community
being the target of hatred and violence? What words express the
grief of a city that has already known so much pain?
I thought there were none. And then I came here and was met with
this simple greeting: Asalamu Aleykum. Peace be upon you.
They were simple words, repeated by
community leaders who witnessed the loss of their friends and loved
ones. Simple words, whispered by the injured from their hospital
beds. Simple words, spoken by the bereaved and everyone I met who
has been affected by this attack.
Asalamu Aleykum. Peace be upon
They were words spoken by a community
who, in the face of hate and violence, had every right to express
anger but instead opened their doors for all of us to grieve with
them. And so we say to those who have lost the most, we may not have
always had the words. We may have left flowers, performed the haka,
sung songs or simply embraced. But even when we had no words, we
still heard yours, and they have left us humbled and they have left
Over the past two weeks we have heard the stories of those impacted
by this terrorist attack. They were stories of bravery. They were
stories of those who were born here, grew up here, or who had made
New Zealand their home. Who had sought refuge, or sought a better
life for themselves or their families. These stories, they now form
part of our collective memories. They will remain with us forever.
They are us.
But with that memory comes a
responsibility. A responsibility to be the place that we wish to be.
A place that is diverse, that is welcoming, that is kind and
compassionate. Those values represent the very best of us.
But even the ugliest of viruses can
exist in places they are not welcome.
Racism exists, but it is not welcome here. An assault on the freedom
of any one of us who practices their faith or religion, is not
welcome here. Violence, and extremism in all its forms, is not
And over the last two weeks we have shown that, you have shown that,
in your actions. From the thousands at vigils to the 95 year old man
who took four buses to attend a rally because he couldnít sleep from
the sadness of seeing the hurt and suffering of others.
Our challenge now is to make the very
best of us, a daily reality. Because we are not immune to the
viruses of hate, of fear, of other. We never have been. But we can
be the nation that discovers the cure.
And so to each of us as we go from here, we have work to do, but do
not leave the job of combating hate to the Government alone. We each
hold the power, in our words and in our actions, in our daily acts
of kindness. Let that be the legacy of the 15th of March: to be the
nation we believe ourselves to be.
To the global community who have joined us today, who reached out to
embrace New Zealand, and our Muslim community, to all of those who
have gathered here today, we say thank you. And we also ask that the
condemnation of violence and terrorism turns now to a collective
response. The world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism
breeding extremism and it must end.
We cannot confront these issues alone, none of us can. But the
answer to them lies in a simple concept that is not bound by
domestic borders, that isnít based on ethnicity, power base or even
forms of governance. The answer lies in our humanity.
But for now, we will remember those
who have left this place. We will remember the first responders who
gave so much of themselves to save others. We will remember the
tears of our nation, and the new resolve we have formed. And we
remember, that ours is a home that does not and cannot claim
perfection. But we can strive to be true to the words embedded in
our national anthem:
Men of every creed and
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place
God defend our free land
From dissension, envy, hate
And corruption, guard our state
Make our country good and great
God Defend New Zealand