The vast majority of us never believed what happened last week in Christchurch would, or could, ever happen in New Zealand. We have seen footage of similar events elsewhere in the world but never thought that something so horrifyingly callous could take place in our own streets. Even harder to bear is that many of the victims, their families and friends came to New Zealand to escape persecution and enjoy the freedom to believe in a better life, a freedom we sometimes take for granted.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by the horrific events in Christchurch on Friday. I know our community and country joins me in condemning this dreadful act. We extend our sympathy, love and full support for our Muslim community during this time whether they are in Christchurch, Nelson and Tasman or anywhere else in New Zealand.
New Zealanders are welcoming of all ethnicities, proud to share the many things we hold dear and embrace the things they treasure. Everyone has the right to be accepted, safe and free to believe in a greater good – let us not allow one act of evil take that from us.