By SOPHIE STONE

Just over a year ago New Zealand and the world recoiled as the worst terrorist attack in modern New Zealand history impacted a country previously known for being a peaceful, safe and natural haven. In the weeks that followed, Kiwis banded together, and slogans like “Kia Kaha” and “This Is Not Us” became commonplace on Facebook profiles and in the news. Vigils were held, flowers laid down, and an intense period of mourning swept over a nation who had experienced nothing of the like in their isolated corner of the world.

Outside of New Zealand, the rest of the world offered their support, many donating to charities which were established to help the families of victims. The outpouring of love for New Zealand and the Muslim Community demonstrated some of the very best aspects of humanity, in spite of occuring in response to a tragedy which presented some of the worst.

One year later and the remembrance ceremony has been cancelled. Coronavirus is the topic on everyone’s minds now, another, very different threat to humanity which arguably has the opposite effect to the immediate aftermath of Christchurch, encouraging people to stay away from each other and remain isolated.

While it is understandable in this current climate that the event was cancelled, particularly due to the difficulty in monitoring the large number of attendees, we wanted to take the time to acknowledge what happened on March 15th, 2019, and that we have not forgotten the values we pledged to uphold one year ago.

The news changes every day, but Christchurch has not left our minds. Our commiseration and thoughts for those who lost their lives, their families, friends, and for the Muslim community remain strong. We remember those who lost or risked their own lives in the pursuit of saving others, and the brave individuals who intervened when they realised what was happening. We remember the role of the police, health services and our Prime Minister in responding promptly to help those affected and to avoid any further potential harm.

Many of us were shocked that something so awful could happen in this country, and we pledged to make the true values of our nation be known to everyone, values such as tolerance, equality and peace. However, in order to do this, we need to be aware of the fact that no country is perfect, and that unfortunately extremists may live anywhere on the globe. We need to be vigilant in ensuring that everyone who live here, no matter who they are, can feel safe.

So one year on, we say Kia Kaha to all those affected by Christchurch, and promise to uphold our past pledges.

If you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111. If you need someone to talk to, check out these organisations below:

  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email [email protected]
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
  • What’s Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children’s helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
  • Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
  • Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

Sophie is a third-year Communication student at Massey uni who loves cats, ice cream and musicals.

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