What a week it has been.

The only way I know how to respond to this completely repulsive act is to tell you my perspective.

Because that's the only way any of us can respond to it, with our own thoughts.


I sometimes feel like I'm completely under qualified to deal with major horrific events that affect this country. I felt like this about both of the Christchurch earthquakes. I felt like this about the Rena. I even felt like this about damn Trump!

Though I know all of that is a different kind of hurt to the raw tragedy inflicted on undeserving humans that were living a life of peace, generosity and acceptance in Christchurch.

But here I am, some white, slightly uncultured dude in his 30s with a microphone in front of his face that likes to have a yarn and a laugh, with basically no qualifications apart from a piece of paper that says you're sort of qualified to turn a mic on.

And they want me to say things to people to keep them calm, informed and comforted when bad stuff happens? That's like asking a 7-year-old to drive a truck.

There's going to be a sharp learning curve and lots of tears!

But that's the thing. None of us are qualified to handle this. No one in New Zealand really knows how to talk to people involved in this kind of act of violence and heartbreak, how to feel personally in response to other's grief and what to do or say to try and make it all better.

I guess the only bit of comfort we can take is that we do, despite what the last little while might have made us reconsider, live in a peaceful, open, respectful and opinionated country. I say opinionated because that's what makes us beautiful, we have opinions and we are allowed to share them here.

This week I've heard (and had on air) the whole scale — from love to hate, from blame to forgiveness.

As rough as it's been, there's nowhere else I'd rather have been.

What I have come to realise after being on the radio for longer than I'd care to remember right now, is that in these situations there is no right or wrong way to react or think.

There is just how you feel and being true to that.

Being able to help people share their thoughts and experiences and giving them information to continue to aid that process is actually something that helps me. Especially in a healing capacity. I actually need you way more than you need me. I'm sort of addicted to being able to feel how you feel as an audience and using that as a moral compass for my own feelings.

I talked to a mother of four boys from Papamoa this week. She lost her 14-year-old half-brother in the Christchurch attack.

That poor woman has had the strength and clarity, through a life-changing tragedy, to share her story to honour his memory and help others.

She certainly helped me through how I was feeling. What a way to get a dose of perspective for me and countless others.

If there is something that I've taken away that is positive from a week that is definitely one of the darkest in my career so far, it's that hatred from one person can end up motivating love from an army of others.

• Will Johnston is the 9am-3pm host for The Hits Bay of Plenty 95FM. He's also a celebrant and MC. Follow Will on Instagram on @radiowill