Ko Tātou Tātou – We Are One

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern referred to the terrorist attack in Christchurch as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days. Illustrasjon: Coulorbox.com

Areas medlem Robert Mikkelsen skrev denne oppdateringen om terrorepisoden i Christchurch til Cappelen secondary textbooks, 3. april 2019

On March 15, 2019, in Christchurch, New Zealand, a lone gunman using a semiautomatic weapon attacked two mosques during Friday prayers. He killed 50 men, women and children and injured many more. The shooter was a white racist motivated by hatred of Islam (Islamophobia).

His rampage left the small country of New Zealand stunned. They had never imagined such a horrendous event could happen on their peaceful shores. Thousands spontaneously went to the two mosques, laying down flowers to express their grief for the victims and their solidarity with the Muslim community that had been so viciously attacked.

For its part, New Zealand’s tiny Muslim community – less than 1% of the nation’s population –  opened its mosques and it hearts to its grieving fellow countrymen in a display of forgiveness and unity that stood in stark contrast to the savage intolerance and hatred that had motivated the attack on its members.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, led the nation in this outpouring of sympathy and solidarity. She referred to this terrorist attack as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” Two weeks later, a memorial service for victims was held in Christchurch, near the site of the killings. An estimated 20,000 people attended. Prime Minister Ardern gave the following speech at that memorial. She received a standing ovation from the crowd. She began her speech in the language of the Maori, the native population of the country before colonization by Great Britain. That is why the memorial service was titled in two languages.

“Ko Tātou Tātou – We Are One”

Speech by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, March 29, 2019

I acknowledge amongst us today our distinguished leaders, speakers and those who bear authority. My greetings to the whole of Ngāi Tahu. The tides of remembrance flow over Christchurch today. So let us gather with love, in peace, for this family, so that they may truly live again, 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 words.

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. As-salaam Alaikum. 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.

As-salaam Alaikum. Peace be upon you.

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 us united.

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 welcome here. 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 couldn’t 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 combatting 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 with us, 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 isn’t 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 race,
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

Ko tātou tātou

(We are one)

As-salaam Alaikum