Real Life

All the beautiful ways New Zealanders have responded to the Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks

This is the New Zealand we know and love.

Martin Luther King said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

In that very spirit New Zealanders have responded to the terror attacks in Christchurch on March 15 not with hate, anger or violence, but with acts of humanity and love.

In a Facebook post by The Radiant Muslim, that has since gone viral, she wrote, “You have broken many many hearts and you have made the world weep. You have left a huge void.

“But what you also have done have brought us closer together. And it has strengthened our faith and resolve.”

Here we celebrate some of the acts of kindness, compassion and love that New Zealanders have shown the Muslim community.

New Zealanders have turned out in droves to pay their respects at mosques all over the country.

“In the coming weeks, more non Muslims will turn up at the gates of mosques with fresh flowers and beautifully handwritten notes,” wrote The Radiant Muslim. “They may not have known where the mosques in their area was. But now, they do.”

Strangers are reaching out and hugging one another.

Schools are finding ways to engage their entire student and staff bodies to show their support. This beautiful tribute was created by students and staff at Orewa College in north Auckland.

Kiwis have donated millions of dollars through givealittle to support the families affected by the terror attacks. Victim Support has set up a page, Victim Support Official Page: Christchurch Shooting Victims’ Fund, which has so far raised $6 million.

A page created by the Canterbury Muslim Community Trust has raised $1 million.

Other organisations have collectively raised tens of thousands of dollars. And the money is still flooding in.

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked by Donald Trump how the US could help, she replied: “Sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”

And she has demonstrated that sentiment in buckets, sending a powerful message to the rest of the world.

The haka has been performed by many, many groups at vigils and gatherings – an incredibly moving symbol of community and strength that is deeply rooted in the Māori culture.

A “Colour Your Day” initiative has been organised by Christchurch youth worker Jay Geldard. People are encouraged to wear something colourful this Friday, March 22, to mark one week since the attacks.

“Colour Your Day has come from asking how do 4.8 million people respond to an event like this? You get a sense that there’s this desire, and it’s like people who have been quite down don’t know how to respond,” Geldard explained.

“So it’s saying, let’s just put on something bright. It could be socks, it could be scarves, it could just be mufti – you’ll just see people in bright colours and you’ll know you are all together.”

The initiative has been endorsed by the Christchurch City Council and will raise money for a fund for families affected by the attacks set up by Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Our People Our City.

Organisers are also asking people to pause at 1.40pm, when the shooting started on Friday, March 15.

Geldard consulted the Muslim community. It would be inappropriate to wear red, but any other colour is okay.

A national commemoration and service is being planned, but it will not be this week.

Jacinda Ardern wants to allow the families enough “time and space” to bury the bodies of their loved ones first.

What the March 15 act of hate did was “make martyrs of” those who lost their lives, The Radiant Muslim wrote.

“The last words that escaped their lips were probably words of remembrance and praise of Allah. Which is a noble end many Muslims could only dream of,” she said.

While the intent of the attacks was undoubtedly to create a greater divide between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, what it actually did was the opposite. It brought churches and communities together to stand with Muslims.

Because we are better than that. This is the New Zealand we know and love.

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