Understanding is needed in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, writes Federated Farmers Vice President Andrew Hoggard.

Like most Kiwis I was truly shocked at what happened in Christchurch last month, just a sense of utter disbelief that this could happen in our country.

This is the sort of stuff we expect to hear of happening in Europe, the Middle East or the USA, not New Zealand.

It's very easy to watch the news, read a blog, a series of tweets, watch a YouTube video and think that you can categorise an entire group of people into one neat little box and make assumptions on that basis, like this filth did.


However, when you actually talk to individual people, then you realise that, lo and behold, actually they ain't that different.

Just before I got married, back in 2008 I did one last big adventure, this time to the Middle East, a tour through Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Trepidation-wise Syria scared me the most, the insurgency in Iraq across the border was still going on, (though of course three years later everything got a hell of a lot worse), but yeah, I had my pre-conceived ideas as to what it would be like.

However, as the tour went by, and I interacted with more locals and noticed daily life, those preconceived ideas disappeared.

A really good part of the trip for me was not only visiting some mosques but also a teaching facility that acted as an outreach centre. I got to sit down with the Imam and several students and discuss theology and understand what Islam is all about - what is actually part of the rules, as it were, and what is more some of the host country's culture.

It just reinforced that you just can't go and put blanket assumptions on anyone.

Back here in New Zealand, things have started to change.


They have to change in response to this terrorist attack and one of the first things to alter are our gun laws.

I, like many New Zealand farmers, have a firearms license and own firearms.

Predominately they're used for pest control, thankfully not too often for euthanising stock, very occasionally for hunting, and at one point when I had time, I was doing target shooting.

But we have to accept that we have faults with the system.

The fact that this piece of filth was able to come to our country, get a licence and then assemble the cache of weapons that he did to allegedly carry out this attack shows changes must occur.

We must also not forget that only weeks before, police in Christchurch were carrying weapons at all times due to armed criminals.

The rural community also suffers from a whole collection of idiots driving up roads, pointing spotlights and rifles out windows, blasting away at the first set of reflecting eyes they see.

The wrong sort of weapons are getting into the wrong hands.

If I have to go through a few more hoops, employ a bit more security, and pay a bit more for the verification and a new system, then I'm okay with that if it stops those who shouldn't get guns getting them.

But it's not just about passing laws, it's also about enforcing them and putting in place deterrents and suitable punishment for those that ignore them.

Back to my original point around how when we have these tribal politics, where each group is poking the stick at the other group and trying to come up with labels for others - this is what leads to the extremes of each group being able to justify sick actions in their warped heads.

We need to get back to understanding the individual, don't bother trying to put a pre-conceived label on them.

And with regard to social media, why don't we all start owning our own words.

If you don't have the courage to say something under your own name, then don't say it, and the rest of us don't bother following or listening to anyone that is too gutless to own their own words.