"I never thought it could happen here."

Less than 20 minutes after the news about Friday's horrific shooting had broken, a Bay of Plenty Times reporter was at a Tauranga mosque talking to shellshocked local Muslims.

Rahman Rocky, who was at the mosque for an afternoon prayer, uttered the above words.

They're words that will resonate with all Kiwis today - from any religion, race, creed or ethnicity.


Our country is supposed to be safe, our version of extremism is a brawl at an All Blacks match.

Or it was until yesterday.

Like Rahman Rocky, I honestly thought this would never happen in New Zealand.

I am guilty of shaking my head at the mass shootings that happen in the United States, feeling safe in the supposed knowledge that our gun laws are too strong, our Kiwi culture is too laid back, our xenophobia too hidden for someone to act upon it.

Our Muslim community is reeling from the horror and many will no longer feel safe at their places of worship.

Those of you who follow a religion will understand how heartbreaking that is - your place of fellowship, love, spirituality and safety tainted by hate.

Imagine how violating that would feel, to need armed police standing outside your religious home, knowing you are in danger for the simple act of prayer.

Now we join the ranks of countries that have experienced multiple-fatality terrorist attacks.


No longer can we look down our noses at gun crime in America - it has happened here too.

Somehow, gunmen have got hold of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition and have turned them against New Zealand citizens.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was right when she called Friday "one of New Zealand's darkest days".

It's something the likes of which we haven't seen before, and I hope to God we never see again.

To our Muslim community - we stand with you. It feels trite at a time like this to say our thoughts and prayers are with you, but they are.