Thank you Corbin for the warm welcome. Can I also now offer my own warm welcome to you, Deputy Premier, Hon Vickie Chapman, and to your distinguished delegation of artists and supporters. We are honoured that you have made the trip across the Tasman for this special occasion.
We are also very grateful to have representatives of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, the Canterbury Muslim Community Trust, Linwood Islamic Centre, the University of Canterbury Muslim Students Association, the Muslim Reverts Association, the Pakistan Association of Canterbury, the Iraqi Community in New Zealand, and the Adelaide Sister City Committee with us today.
I would also like to acknowledge my fellow Councillors: Pauline Cotter, Anne Galloway, Deon Swiggs, and Sara Templeton.
Thank you also to the Director of the Christchurch Art Gallery, Blair Jackson, and his team for hosting us today.
When I look back to the atrocity that was perpetrated at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15 this year, I do so to honour those whose lives were so cruelly taken.
However, what I will always always recall as well is the extraordinary response of our local Muslim community, the wider Christchurch community, and fellow New Zealanders. Peace, love and unity were reinforced with the most generous expression of forgiveness, and this became the message that echoed across the world, inviting a similar response from cities and countries everywhere.
Yesterday we had a discussion with Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wye from Nigeria, who shared their message of peace, in the wake of a bitter and violent enmity that had cost too many lives.
They talked from two different religious perspectives with one voice of peace. A phrase I heard was “Anger that is not transformed is transferred”.
That would have been the result here. An act designed to divide us and incite further acts of violence and terror, finds itself transformed into unity and compassion for each other no matter who we are or where we are from or what we believe.
And today we find another act of transformation from South Australia. Last week we received a book that contained moving condolence messages and photos from the vigil that was held in solidarity with us all, It is here if you wish to view it. Within the book, the Premier of South Australia, the honourable Steven Marshall, wrote “We stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, reaffirming our commitment to an inclusive and harmonious multicultural society.”
And now we come to this amazing gift. From the traditional owners of the land in South Australia, comes an amazing expression of enduring unity.
Thank you to the 9 artists that make up the APY Art Centre Collective - we will treasure Kununpa Kutju - forever.
I would now like to invite the Deputy Premier of South Australia, the Hon Vickie Chapman to speak.