In the hours and days following last Friday's terrible events one question many shocked New Zealanders were asking themselves and others was "How could it happen here?".

It's an understandable question, given our relative peace and isolation at the bottom of the world. Even the 2014 Sydney siege at Lindt Cafe and a series of more recent Australian events, while close to home, didn't seem to do lasting damage to our sense of safety.

For many today, even the Aramoana massacre of 1990 and the Rainbow Warrior bombing of 1985 happened in that far off place called history.

But it's also now a meaningless question. It did happen here, and really, as we now know, it could happen anywhere.

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The question also requires us to examine the alleged killer's motives, and frankly, he doesn't deserve the attention.

Remember, acts of terror are carried out in pursuit of political aims, to spread a message.

Aucklanders gathered for a vigil in Aotea Square in support of the victims of the Christchurch mosque killings. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Aucklanders gathered for a vigil in Aotea Square in support of the victims of the Christchurch mosque killings. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The message we could instead lend our ears to is one of peace, love and community.

Despite the best efforts of the far right and far left, New Zealanders have to a great extent come together in grief as one.

The images that tell the story of this "darkest day" are not those streamed live from a helmet cam. The images that speak loudest are those of the faces of those who are most important - the victims and their families, but also those of other New Zealanders of all backgrounds coming together in vigil, those laying flowers and paying respects to fellow Kiwis they never met and never will.

Vigil for Christchurch at Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
Vigil for Christchurch at Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

So, where to now? Our gun laws will, finally, change. Who in Parliament will challenge such change?

What about our ability to have a national conversation on issues of race, immigration, security and more?

The uncivil war that is social media has been a sorry hotbed of hatred and blame since Friday. Most disturbing have been those using the deaths of at least 50 innocent New Zealanders to further their own political causes.

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This week we are a broken country. It will take great heart and strong leadership to pull us together again. In the past few days we've seen reassuring evidence of both.