COMMENT:

We are heading into celebrating perhaps the greatest day on our calendar for all New Zealanders. Even with the greatest of respect to Waitangi Day, Anzac Day has become our national day.

The beauty about our Anzac Day is the way in which, regardless of the conflict, we can all stand together and own the memory of whānau who gave their lives selflessly in order to defend who and what we are today.

It matters not if some stand there to remember ancestors who gave their lives in the New Zealand Land Wars, the Boer War, World War I or World War II, or indeed even newcomers to New Zealand — now New Zealand citizens — whose ancestors gave their lives for their lands fighting on opposite sides.

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The beauty about Anzac Day is it allows us to embrace as a nation all of these hurts and sufferings. It allows us to pass on the culture, the mana and the heritage of those who have gone on before us. It allows us to come together as Kiwis and as a consequence, it is our national day.

So you will have to forgive me for being deeply upset at the cancellation of 56 Anzac Day commemoration ceremonies in Auckland and dozens of others throughout New Zealand.
To me this would in effect make the targeted events smaller and do we really want armed police the norm at Anzac ceremonies?

Many communities, up and down this country, have a memorial stone or a plinth naming those who fell, particularly in World War I, who came from that particular community.

Anzac Day has moved from being a day just of remembrance to a day where our children must recall the sacrifices of their ancestors and learn deeply from the mistakes made — such as why many of them gave their lives tragically, often in a pointless battle on some foreign shore.

So deeply entrenched is the Anzac tradition in our New Zealand DNA, I'm sure I'm not the only person to be deeply upset with the cancellation of these commemorations.

I'm upset at the way in which we are treated as mushrooms and merely told it's in our best interests that these commemorations be cancelled.

What we do know is that one person allegedly carried out a massacre in Christchurch that now has a major flow-on effect for all of us. Anzac Day celebrations are about honouring those lost in conflict and NOT the pointless ugly acts conducted in Christchurch.

We cannot surrender what we are, who we are or where we are after this alleged lone ranger attack, or any other single act. But it feels to me, somewhere, someone has surrendered our identity as Kiwis.

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Is it right that one person can trigger a range of events that has major repercussions for all of us, but we are not consulted over the impact to us personally?

The Government's urgent response over gun law reform was overdue and welcome. But gun law reform doesn't prevent a future terror attack by a single individual. Such incidents that caused large numbers of deaths in this country in the very recent past are listed in the accompanying sidebar.

None, other than the first incident listed, had a racist or political driver. The massacre at the mosques seemingly did.

The security companies in this country will be rubbing their hands together in glee, as will the state's intelligence agencies and police.

Increased budgets, increased surveillance, increased search on demand all start to converge because of one incident — albeit a major one.

What we do know a month later is that there might have been at one time a white supremacy cell at the University of Auckland. The Chancellor of Auckland University denies any white supremacy group exists on that campus. That is as close as we have got to hunting down a white supremacy movement.

Out here in West Auckland, we have white mullet-cut bogans. They have formed their own head-banging culture and are into drugs and don't necessarily like brown folk. I know they prefer their own company, they know they prefer their own company and we move on. They are often poor Pākehā kids who have had to form their own culture to sustain themselves in their very difficult moments.

We should all understand that — and deep down they are just endeavouring to assert their identity in their very difficult world.

I'm aware that Christchurch may have the same sorts of folk, but to call off our national day of remembrance without public justification smacks of surrendering to one person and having our world forever changed.

We are all Kiwis, but we are all not the same. These Westie folk can have their Bogantanga. My Indian mates can have their Hinditanga. I can have my Māoritanga or Irishtanga. Anzac Day is about revelling in our diversity, not wallowing in our differences.

Where will this debate end? Will we procure face recognition CCTV cameras? Will the right to search and seizure by authorities be strengthened? Will the right to mine data and information from citizens at will be legalised?

There are those that have survived war who will be marching in a number of these parades on Thursday, April 25. There will be those families that are survivors of those who gave their lives to secure the very rights we must be careful of giving up.

The first right is the right of a citizen to know who in authority, and for what reason, determined that the greatest national day on our calendar had to be surrendered.

Of course we must all be vigilant, of course we must have security agencies and of course our world changed after 9/11, but let's not let 15/3 change who we are, what we are and how we conduct ourselves on our national day of remembrance.

MASS KILLINGS IN NEW ZEALAND

15/3/2019

One person charged with murdering 50 at two Christchurch mosques by an alleged lone gunman armed with a semi-automatic.

8/2/1997

Stephen Anderson, armed with a single-barrel shotgun, kills six at Raurimu, King Country.

20/06/1994

Five members of the Bain family in Dunedin are slain by a killer armed with a .22 semi-automatic.

26/06/1992

Armed with a hammer, Masterton man Raymond Ratima murders his three children, their 14-year-old uncle, their aunt, her partner their 2-year-old son, as well as the couple's unborn child.

20/05/1992

South Auckland farmer Brian Schlaepfer, armed with a knife and shotgun, kills his wife before murdering his three sons, a daughter-in-law, a grandson and himself.

14/11/1990

Aramoana resident David Gray, after a dispute with a neighbour, goes on to kill 13 before he is shot by the police armed offenders squad. Gray had a cache of weapons including, a 223-calibre Norinco Type 84s sporting rifle, 7.62x39mm Norinco SKS semi-automatic rifle, .22-calibre Squires and Bingham Model 16 semi-automatic sporting rifle, .22-calibre Winchester Model 750 rifle with suppressor and a .22-calibre Remington Nylon 66 semi-automatic rifle.