What on earth can I say? What can anyone say in the wake of the horror shootings that have shattered New Zealanders' sense of security forever?

We've changed. As of Friday, there was a New Zealand that was before. Now we live in a New Zealand that is after.

Before, I used to think of New Zealand as the last safe place on earth. There was even a part of me that was just a little bit smug, that thought we as a people were somehow better than those other countries where hate crimes happen.


I know that there are people who are bigoted and racist – I work in talkback, for heaven's sake. But I never thought for one wild second that there would be individuals who would put inchoate thought into action. And such cowardly action.

To shoot at people in a place of worship, who were kneeling in prayer, unarmed and with their backs to the gunman. How utterly, despicably craven.

Before, I was desperate for my daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren to leave London and come home. Home to a place where there was little to no chance they would be victims of mindless, senseless, irrational acts of violence.

After, I rang them on Friday night and told them they might as well stay in the UK. Nowhere's safe. And it's grasping at straws to say the main shooter was an Australian national. There are like minds and sympathisers here. Which is why I can't get on board with the #thisisnotus social media posts.

I know we'd all like to think #thisisnotus. It's not you and it's not me. But we have to own that there are people in this country who are so filled with hate, they are willing to aid and abet terrorists.

And I can't yet respond to the calls to use this atrocity to band together, to show the vile haters amongst us that we will not be bowed by their actions. I will but not yet.

Right now, I'm still trying to absorb the sheer numbers of men, women and children who have been murdered and whose families are reeling from their loss.

I think, before we begin the process of trying to make things better, we have to acknowledge the enormous loss we have suffered as a country. The loss of so many Kiwis, the loss of our innocence – our naivety, if you will – the loss of our sense of safety.

There will be things we can do – already the Prime Minister has said our gun laws will change. But right now, the pain is too raw and too deep to feel anything but overwhelming grief.