Why Hearing About New Zealand’s Response to Christchurch is Important

24/03/2019

I have seen some people recently start to question why we are hearing so much about the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand. Some say it’s just becoming ‘old news’, wanting the news cycle to move on, while others have come out with rather offensive and politically charged responses. But, although one might argue that maybe the story has saturated the media more than expected, I think there are some very worthwhile reasons to keep reporting on how the country has reacted.

In Australia and New Zealand, it is obvious why so much has been reported about it – it is the deadliest attack in New Zealand’s history, and an Australian man (who, in agreement with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, won’t be named here) was involved. But on a global level, and for those who seem disinterested in Australia, why does it matter? I think it matters because NZ has shown how a country should act after a crisis. Because their leader has shown a much deeper compassion than most politicians in the world could claim to have. Because their government reacted swiftly to counter the causes of the tragedy. And because the people have been so peaceful and united as a single voice.

Jacinda Ardern is more than just a politician. Her response and how she has carried herself, and her country, throughout the last couple of weeks has shown her to be a genuine human being. The grief, the sorrow, the hope – all of it is clearly visible and reflects the pain of a nation hurting. Rather than lash out in anger, she’s been an anchor of calm; rather than act rashly, her actions have been considered and gentle.

The people have followed her in this. Millions of dollars have been raised to aid the families and communities affected. People have gathered and mourned together, regardless of race or creed. Some women, including Ardern herself, donned a headscarf as a symbol of solidarity. There has just been such a genuine and touching response from all involved that I cannot imagine seeing anywhere else.

Within a week, gun laws were changed. Not to focus on the political side of that debate, I mention it purely as an example of the swift corrective actions that the NZ government took to stifle the cause of the attack. They also made it illegal to share or post the perpetrator’s video and manifesto – neither of which I have seen, but I am aware of their contents. Along with refusing to mention the man’s name, Ardern is not just letting words flow over people’s heads, she is taking action. What she says, she believes in, and what she believes in is what she strives for. And the people of NZ are grateful.

Around the world, people march. In Palestine, the people of Gaza protest each week for their right to simply live. In France, the yellow vest protests continue in opposition to Macron’s neoliberal governance – protests that have turned violent with police and now military becoming involved in opposing them. In the UK, millions have added their name to a petition to put a stop to Brexit, and over a million marched in London for the same reason. In over 120 countries across the world, thousands upon thousands of students, young people, marched in strikes, to fight for their futures.

In New Zealand, the people are coming together in peace and unison. The common theme is people standing together. There is much we can learn from these events, and the response to Christchurch is the greatest example yet.

 

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