Taking ownership of the Christchurch Terrorist Attack: Our roles and responsibilities as a nation.
As a high school teacher, I regularly discuss with my students the power of language and the importance of word choice. Charged with leading government engagement for the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand before and since March 15, 2019, I have felt the power and strength that word selection has as well as the disappointment it can cause. There is no question that language can inspire change.
We as a nation heard the inspiring and healing words by the Prime Minister in the days that followed the terrorism in Christchurch. Signs that read "We stand together" and "We choose love" come to mind. Those words helped, as did the actions.
At that moment, we embraced each other as one. We recognised it was New Zealand's citizens, residents, guests who were impacted — our sons, our daughters, our students, our teachers, our doctors, our builders, our neighbours, our friends, our loved who died or were injured. There was no "them" any more.
Now, after 20 months, that positive shift in language needs to move into action.
This week, the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques will be made public, detailing what occurred and what led to the attack. IWCNZ anticipates the report will detail significant failings by our Government and public service, and we believe there likely was enough information to have prevented the attacks.
The report will make findings on whether key ministries and agencies did enough to avert this disaster, and it will also provide recommendations on whereto from here.
This week, we as a nation must take ownership.
We must remember this happened to us — not them. If the public service failed New Zealand, it is our public service that did not perform.
If individuals or government ministers could have done more, it is our responsibility to ensure those flaws and errors are corrected.
If our Government wasn't resourced or adequately prepared to handle the complexities of today, it is our obligation to ensure what is needed is available and that we have people in the top executive roles who can manage such challenges effectively going forward.
If our nation failed its citizens, its residents and its guests, it is our collective responsibility to advocate and make sure it doesn't happen again to any community within our shores.
This report will also be painful for many. Like a bandage been placed to stop the bleeding and to prevent infection, the establishment of the Commission put on hold the full vetting all the causes and damage of the attack.
With the report's issuance, we lift of the cover off our Government's actions and inactions. We will now be able to begin to see how just how deep the injuries are and how widespread the problem is and what challenges face our impacted.
It is likely the task to read the report, process it and move forward will be a challenge. Still, as a citizenry, we must do so.
We must be about solutions and we must insist that our Government and public service step up. We must as a nation find ways to repair, as much as possible, that damage and to allow our impacted whānau not just to heal, but to thrive.
We must address the recommendations and find better and more effective ways of doing things. Likewise, we must insist those who take up the charge to service our nation are creative, motivated, honest, skilled and competent.
Ultimately, we must remember the March 15 terrorist act was not just an attack on Muslims, on mosques, on migrants, on one city. It was an attack on New Zealand, our way of life, and our willingness to embrace diversity and difference.
It is my personal hope that Kiwis recognise this and take up the charge to ensure we do better and do more for everyone in Aotearoa. In memory of those we lost 20 months ago in Christchurch, let us take ownership of our actions and make this nation the beautiful country it has aspired to be for so long.
• Aliya Danzeisen has led the Government engagement for the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand for seven years and has played a key advocacy role in getting support for the Kiwi Muslim community.