Comment

We have been shamed. New Zealand was a beacon of hope and freedom. We were 100% pure. We held that slogan dear. It wasn't just an environmental marketing tool, but it also represented how we wanted to be seen by the world. We were peaceful. We looked after each other. We didn't have terrorism.

Then that all changed. And we had our moment of terror. And it was awful. It is awful. It will stay awful.

But we have also been blessed to witness some incredible strength. Compassion. Wisdom. Love.

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Yes the Prime Minister has been great. She has struck a perfect tone of empathy, sorrow, sympathy, leadership and resilience. Her image has shone as a symbol of how Western leaders can act towards Muslim communities. In one case quite shone literally, onto the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Her kindness has radiated and resonated with us. Her leadership has been something to cling to. But we also should expect this from our leaders. They should be the first among equals.

Our Parliament has been broadly unified too. National has been supportive of Muslim communities and Simon Bridges' speech in Parliament and immediate and unconditional support for the Prime Minister's gun control programme are also deserving of applause.

Not every country would be graced with unity from its two biggest parties. The Democrats and Republicans in the United States for example will argue relentlessly after each gun tragedy and then nothing will change. But we should expect unity from our parliament in times like this. For this is a tragedy of humanity and our politicians represent that humanity.

New Zealanders have expressed sorrow and shame. Embarrassment and grief. Compassion and support. Vigils around the country have been overflowing with people and love and sadness. We have sought to reconcile. To repair. We have not thrown blame at Australia. We have recognised that a darkness lurks within New Zealand and we must work hard to fix it. We must sit in the discomfort this has created and not brush it away. But then we should react like this because this was a tragedy that happened to a group of innocent people, and we are all people.

The strongest and most amazing display has come from our Muslim community. New Zealand's Muslims lost 50 of their own in an event that should never have happened. They lost 50 of their own to a man who specifically targeted their community. They lost 50 of their own.

All around the world Muslim people are villified for being terrorists. And there are extremists who have committed violence under the guise of the Muslim faith, as there are extremists of just about all religions who have committed acts of violence.

There are aspects to some Muslim countries that we in New Zealand find unfathomable, unfair, oppressive. But we are all people.

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And after the Muslim community of New Zealand lost 50 of its own they could have been furious. They could have retreated into their own community, threatened and scared, ready to lash out. Instead they opened their arms and let us try to make amends. They welcomed us to their Mosques and encouraged us to join them in their Friday prayers.

Al noor Mosque Imam Gamal Fouda's speech is one of the most beautiful speeches of reconciliation I have heard.

"The terrorist tried to tear the nation apart with evil ideology. Instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable" he said. "We are brokenhearted but we are not broken. We are determined to not let anyone divide us."

He said the people who died were not just martyrs of Islam, but martyrs of New Zealand. He thanked everyone. He lost 50 of his community and he thanked everyone. He thanked the Prime Minister for her leadership, for holding the families close and he thanked her for honouring the Muslim community with a "simple scarf". He thanked all of our parliament for demonstrating that New Zealand's Muslisms were "not forgotten".

He thanked the police, he thanked everyone who had brought gifts, he thanked New Zealand.

He did not ignore that Islamophobia is a real thing, a thing that Muslim communities around the world have to face every day, but he thanked his "Muslim and non-Muslim brothers and sisters".

The New Zealand Muslim community has shown an unbelievable strength of spirit and compassion when it would have been completely understandable not to. They have shown love and forgiveness. They have shown mana. And they have shown that we are all people.

Thank you.

- David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green Parties and interned for Bill English while studying