Peace to all

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

He Maun­garongo ki te Whenua, He whakaaro pai ki nga¯ ta¯ngata ka­toa.

Our kura is lucky to have a won­der­ful science teacher in our midst — she’s a Fi­jian In­dian Mus­lim, very tiny and sup­port­ive of our kau­papa reo. She learns a sen­tence of reo Ma¯ ori every week and the kids cheer her ef­forts. Some­times we ask her ques­tions about her cus­toms and we are gen­uinely in­ter­ested in com­par­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

I find her a quiet but strong work col­league who con­trib­utes to our kura kau­papa. What if she was in the mosque on that day?

Can a news­pa­per pull to­gether 50 pho­tos of those slain — so we can hu­man­ise them as reg­u­lar peo­ple?

Let’s stop the deroga­tory com­ments about other cul­tures.

It used to be a reg­u­lar sport to den­i­grate Ma¯ ori, later the na­tional at­ten­tion was drawn to Asians, Pa­cific Is­lan­ders, im­mi­grants, Jews, Mus­lims, strong black women, Ma¯ ori ac­tivists, gays, trans­gen­ders, too-short shorts . . .

Our coun­try has in­sti­tu­tion­alised racism within its day-to-day op­er­a­tions — we pro­tect white racists un­der the guise of “free speech” . Count how many times the same writ­ers get ac­cess to news­pa­pers and pro­mote white is right, one coun­try, one way blah, blah. If we were truly equal in this coun­try, 80 per cent of the prison pop­u­la­tion would be Pa¯ keha¯ .

Our coun­try has shot and im­pris­oned con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors, vil­i­fied Ma¯ ori ac­tivists and frozen out peo­ple with good ideas.

This in­ci­dent did not hap­pen in a vac­uum.

There are a small mi­nor­ity of ex­treme ter­ror­ists in many faiths. We should not as­sume that peo­ple with a dif­fer­ent faith are god­less or linked to ter­ror­ism. When we turn a blind eye to racist state­ments we en­cour­age the racism to thrive. We don’t need to be on a soap­box — cor­rect the state­ment qui­etly or don’t laugh. Or as peo­ple do — show the sol­i­dar­ity in small ways to let peo­ple know you con­nect with them.

Let us not give air­time to this ter­ror­ist and his twisted brain. He and his crazy coun­ter­parts can en­joy soli­tary con­fine­ment for 50 years. Aro­hanui to the vic­tims of this atroc­ity. We as a coun­try will need to make amends for the next 50 years: one year for every life lost.

HILDA HALKYARDHA­RAWIRA Poua¯ rahi, Te Wa¯ nanga o Te

Rangi A¯ ni­waniwa

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