In an interview that aired on Australia's The Project last night Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened up about her deep sadness in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks.
She told The Project host Waleed Aly she's been avoiding the question 'how are you?' "because the answer is I'm deeply sad".
Until last night the only other time she has fielded that question has been when a student asked her during a visit to Christchurch's Cashmere High School, and she hesitated for a moment to centre herself before answering she was very sad.
Last night she revealed that when the cameras haven't been trained on her, she has shared some "very emotional moments" in private with the families of those directly affected by the attacks.
"When I've seen husbands, wives in hospital and the grief that's surrounding that and the fear, yeah I feel it deeply... I've always been a person inclined to feel things quite deeply."
She has had little time with her own family since New Zealand's darkest day on March 15.
"But at the moment my time with them wouldn't be quality because I feel such a draw to be focused on doing what's needed for those who have lost loved ones. Too much else feels a bit selfish right now," she said.
"My family have... visited me in the Beehive when they can and I have my parents helping at the moment with Neve as well, so I'm the last one that anyone should be worrying about," she said.
Last Friday, March 22, thousands of Kiwi women wore a hijab to show their support to the Muslim community, as mosques around the country opened their doors for the public to grieve and commemorate one week since the attacks.
It was undoubtedly Ardern who set the tone for this act of solidarity, when she first wore a black hijab the morning after the attacks while visiting Christchurch's Muslim community.
She told Aly she didn't think twice about wearing a hijab.
"It was so obvious to me that that would be the appropriate thing to do.
"What I underestimated," she went on to say, "was that it gave people a sense of security. It didn't occur to me for a moment that there would be those women in the community who felt unsafe... And so, if in wearing the hijab as I did gave them a sense of security to continue to practice their faith then I'm very pleased I did it.
"My job is to make people feel safe," she continued. "The idea that people currently do not, I find deeply distressing and it's my job to try and bring that sense of security back."
To Aly's question, what did she think when she discovered the perpetrator was Australian, she said it did take her some time "to process that".
She said she thought the fact the perpetrator was not a New Zealander has helped Kiwis process what has happened.
"But they do not point it out in an attempt to blame. That is not the reason that it's raised."
She showed pride when she spoke of New Zealanders' beautiful responses to the attacks.
"I think the world has just seen who we are. We're a nation of over 200 ethnicities, 160 languages; we see ourselves as peaceful and inclusive. The act has been so counter to that but the response - the flood of flowers outside mosques, the spontaneous song where people have gathered, the real desire to give a sense of safety and security for people to return to worship - that's New Zealand."
She said we'd be naive to believe we did not have pockets of idealogy "counter to our values" in New Zealand - "and whether or not we've spoken as openly about it as we should have... is a legitimate question" - but what the attacks have done has been to inspire "an even great resolve to confront that".
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