To us all. We, who continue to hold onto the branch of compassion. Recall, recollect and remember to care for the people. I acknowledge you all
As-salāmu ʿalaykum – Peace be upon you
Their Excellences the Governor-General and Sir David Gascoigne
Leader of the Opposition
Ministers and Members of Parliament
Fellow Mayors and Councillors
Members of the Diplomatic and consular corps
It is a privilege to stand alongside Te Maire Tau, Upoko, Ngai Tuahuriri as I did two years ago to welcome you all here.
I acknowledge the families and friends of the 51 people whose lives were taken as result of the attack on Al Noor Masjid and the Linwood Islamic Centre. You and they are in our hearts forever.
I acknowledge all those who were injured on that day and everyone who was traumatised by what they saw and experienced.
I thank those who have shared their stories. I know how painful that can be. However, a seed of understanding is planted each time such a story is shared. And it is with understanding that we see that differences sometimes mask all that we have in common. And it is all that we have in common - our shared humanity - that brings us together in times of need and again today.
Today, we also take the opportunity to give heartfelt thanks to everyone who came in response to the calls for help - the first responders, including the emergency response teams, paramedics and hospital teams, along with the bystanders, passers-by and neighbours who stepped in to help save lives.
It has been heart-warming to hear stories of lasting friendships forged in the hours and days after the attacks. No longer strangers, we are neighbours in the true sense of the word.
Today we also reflect on the incredible leadership of our Muslim communities, who asked us to unite in peace, love and forgiveness, so that we could overcome the division and further acts of violence this attack was designed to cause.
We can all be proud of how we responded and how we supported each other with kindness and compassion.
And although March 15, 2019 will always be a day when we can instantly recall where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news of the attack, it is for the outpouring of support that our city will be forever remembered.
And for that we give thanks for the voices of our local Muslim leaders, our Prime Minister who spoke for our nation with passion and commitment and our own communities here in Otautahi Christchurch who came together as we do again today.
We are all invited to keep these intentions alive – to see our differences as our strength, to embrace our shared humanity and to find the true value in the diversity that is our city today.
In this way, we see our shared response as a beacon of light in the world and an offer of hope for the future, which was exemplified at the Call to Prayer one week after the shootings where thousands of people simply turned up.
The message was incredibly powerful – we stand in solidarity with you, no one stands alone, we stand together – ko tatou tatou – we are one.