It has been a grim, milestone week in New Zealand history.
Christchurch mosque attack survivors and family members have stood and faced the gunman to share their grief, anger, suffering and, in a few cases, forgiveness. Many of us stood alongside in spirit as they gave harrowing testimony, our hearts as one. They are, and will forever be, us.
Some may question the need to schedule four days for what could take Justice Cameron Mander mere moments - to utter the inevitable sentence and strike a gavel. Some may ponder whether resurfacing the agony of this ghastly episode was even more harmful to those bearing witness. A few may consider the possibility that this is what the gunman may have wanted.
However, New Zealand's justice system is based on more than the passing of a sentence, the punitive act of sending an offender "down". Our justice recognises the victims, giving them an opportunity to be heard; lifting them beyond mere names on a charge sheet. We offer them, ourselves, the right to restore mana after being unlawfully wronged.
The cathartic cadence proved the worth of this in Christchurch this week. Originally, 66 people were scheduled to read victim impact statements. Almost 30 more had asked that their statements be read privately to Justice Mander but, emboldened after seeing and hearing their "brothers and sisters" face the killer and speak, they also took the stand.
Now, 17 months after 51 people were murdered, and 40 others seriously injured, the man responsible for this massacre has been sentenced.
In so many ways, this case is incomparable to anything in New Zealand's past.
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No person in New Zealand had previously been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The longest minimum period of imprisonment on a sentence of life imprisonment is 30 years, currently being served by William Dwane Bell for killing three people at the Panmure RSA.
Never before in New Zealand has a person taken up such lethally-primed arms and wrought death on such a scale, motivated by twisted and confused ideology. Whatever his purpose, it has been swept aside like dust in the wind. It is the voices of those who spoke at the High Court in Christchurch that will be remembered.
Those whose lives were shattered by the events of March 15, 2019 will never be the same. But their terror, heartbreak and pain have been recognised in a New Zealand court of law. We laud their courage. Their korero is our taonga.
In sentencing the killer to spend the remainder of his life in prison, Justice Mander listed every person killed and wounded, as well as the wounds inflicted and the ongoing impacts on those who were affected. The Justice paid tribute to the "extraordinary resilience" of the victims.
Their voices have been heard and justice is seen to have been done.