By Todd Muller
I have been reflecting deeply on the events of the past two weeks, as I’m sure we all have, and of the gravity of what has happened.
There can be no doubt that our country has lost some of our innocence, but as we look inward and collectively enter into a national conversation, I hope we will speak freely and frankly so we can ensure that we never need to see this kind of loss again.
The tragic events of March 15 that claimed 50 innocent lives, and has impacted so many more, didn’t happen to the Muslim community; it happened to OUR community. It was a crime committed against New Zealanders, and all New Zealanders collectively share in the grief.
The actions of one man do not define New Zealand as a nation.
What I believe does define us is the outpouring of love and compassion that has been wrapped around those of the Muslim faith not only here in Tauranga, but right across New Zealand. This has sent a powerful message of inclusiveness and an acknowledgement that we welcome diversity.
Faced with unspeakable evil, our Muslim community could have chosen to retreat, close ranks and let resentment and anger fester. Instead they have opened their arms, opened their doors and embraced those around them.
New Zealand is an open, tolerant and diverse place. Whether you were born here, or have made the decision to call Aotearoa home, we are all Kiwis together.