On March 15 2019, as school students handed over their open letter to city and government leaders demanding that we take action on climate change, a white supremacist opened fire on a group of people who had gathered in prayer at Al Noor Mosque. He then went to the Linwood Islamic Centre and opened fire once more. His plans were disrupted by the courage of a man, who took action, and then by the two police officers who rammed his car and brought his rampage to a halt. The lives that were saved by the actions of these three men are incalculable. Other stories of heroism are emerging every day as we come to terms with the enormity of what has occurred.
This man, who is entitled to a fair legal process, is entitled to nothing more. No name. And no voice to his extremist views.
He came to our city with hatred in his heart and his intention to kill already formed in his mind. His hate was not born here nor nurtured here.
However, we all have a responsibility to ask the hard questions of ourselves about what comfort any of us might give to people who harbour these extremist views, through anything we might say or do.
In 2017, we as a council endorsed the Christchurch Multicultural Strategy Te Rautaki Matawaka Rau – Our Future Together - I have reflected on its words since Friday the 15th, and I have asked myself whether we fully appreciated their significance before now.
The strategy’s vision is:
- Aroha ki te whenua, te tūāpapa o te manaaki. Kia atawhai ki te iwi.
Love and respect to the land, which is the foundation of hospitality. Care for the people.
- Ōtautahi Christchurch is an inclusive multicultural and multilingual city that honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi and values our environment – a city where all people belong.
Our Future Together was developed in partnership with community leaders and seeks three outcomes:
1. Ngā Pou Haumaru – The sheltering mountains – the land
A safe place that people are welcomed into, where each person is cared for and Rangatiratanga is respected.
2. Te Wairua Rāhiri – The welcoming spirit – the home people
A commitment to welcoming all who arrive to Ōtautahi with aroha and manaakitanga. A commitment to reciprocity when given such a welcome.
3. Te Waka Eke Noa – A purpose and model – the canoe we all are part of
An environment we can access where we can achieve common goals and understand the importance of working together.
I ask colleagues to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring those words are translated into reality.
And finally I ask that we collectively express our gratitude and thanks to all those who have played such an extraordinary role in our city since this atrocity occurred, acknowledging the impact it has had.
We know from our experience that placing the community at the heart of all that we do, ensures our purpose and direction will be true.
We will not be defined by what happened on the 15th of March 2019, we are defined by what followed - the unity, the love, the compassion and the kindness - they are who we are, and we commit to ensuring that this moment in our history defines a future committed to social change for good. That’s our history and that’s our future.
I formally move the motion, which has been seconded by Cr Jimmy Chen who led the work on the Christchurch Multicultural Strategy:
That, as a council:
We Condemn the attacks on our Muslim brothers and sisters as they worshipped at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15, 2019, and extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those whose lives were so cruelly taken and express our heartfelt sorrow to those who were injured and to the members of all our Muslim communities. Your pain is our pain, we are united in our shared grief; none of us stands alone, we stand together as one;
We Affirm our commitment to Otautahi Christchurch being a city of peace and a city that honours human rights, by truly living up to being a city of inclusion that embraces diversity, as declared in the Christchurch Multicultural Strategy Te Rautaki Matawaka Rau – Our Future Together, and we are thankful to all the people of Christchurch, who have demonstrated their commitment to its vision by coming together as one to offer support and care for each other at this time and into the future
We Express our gratitude for the extraordinary efforts of our first responders including the NZ Police, St John and the members of the community at the mosques and passers-by, and honour those who went above and beyond the call of duty;
We Express our thanks to all the hospital staff, who worked tirelessly to save lives and offer care to those who were injured and their families, and to the coroner’s, council, City Care and funeral director teams, and members of the Muslim community, who all worked together to ensure the families could bury their loved ones with dignity and respect;
We Express our thanks to the teachers, who looked after our schoolchildren yet again, providing reassurance at a time when little was known of what was happening, and we acknowledge the impact on residents and businesses affected by the lockdown and the cordons around the mosques in Riccarton and Linwood;
We Honour the Imams for their inspiring leadership and for inviting us to attend their Call to Prayer, and we honour the Muslim Community Leadership Group for their dedication and thank all those that have provided cultural advice and ensured decision-making has had the community at its heart;
We Acknowledge the support provided by the Prime Minister and the government to our city and to our Muslim communities; and thank them for taking urgent action to strengthen New Zealand’s gun laws; and resolve that the Council will make a submission in support, delegating authority to sign off the submission to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor if necessary;
We Call upon the social media platforms to take responsibility for ensuring that such atrocities cannot be live-streamed and that messages of hate cannot be shared;
We Thank all the Council staff who have built on their existing relationships with our local communities and partner agencies to ensure a well-coordinated response with the community at the heart of all we do, and for their absolute commitment to ensuring our communities jointly lead the recovery process;
We Thank all those who organised opportunities for different parts of the Christchurch community to gather together, so we could pay our respects in ways that were meaningful to us all;
And We Thank everyone who has sent tributes, messages of support, offers of help and financial contributions, along with all of those who have attended vigils in cities and towns across New Zealand and around the world.
Before I put the vote, I ask that we all stand in silence in memory of those whose lives were lost.
Assalaam Alaykum - peace be upon you - peace be upon us all.