What makes us New Zealanders

Last year the discussion around the New Zealand identity was vigorous and yet confusing. What were the core values that we really believed in? What were we sure we didn?t want to lose, to be overwhelmed by others who sought to dictate their own values over the country that they had moved to. We knew that there were some things we really did not want to lose. Some things that were so precious to us that we would protect them come what may. Many of us were inarticulate about what was critical to us. We just knew that being a New Zealander was precious and needed to be preserved.

I made my own mind up mid last year when so many of you gave me help. Most of it was help to an anonymous person by another anonymous person. It was not done for glory, it was done with care and kindness, to help. It gave me the energy to continue to fight for my life. To be able to continue to participate in this wonderful country of ours. And this support and generosity was mostly from the right of the political spectrum.

Can we extrapolate from the personal to the general? I think so.

Christchurch has clearly demonstrated what is important to New
Zealanders. The right to freedom to worship in safety regardless of religious belief. The right to freedom of expression. And the love and care
that our society demonstrates when both individuals and groups need
help and support.

We must not let people at either end of the spectrum ? right or left,
racist or anti this or that – dictate how we move on from this. We have said we must have freedom of religious belief and expression. We must have safety. We must have love in our hearts.

We must therefore demonstrate these core beliefs in our own lives and not buy into the temptation to ramp up hate of one group against the other. Except perhaps against killers of any colour or creed or indeed no creed at all! Mad killers are not usually open to love, but their potential supporters may be.

For many years I worked with those considered poor and disadvantaged in
New Zealand. Beneficiaries who were trying to change their own lives. I was teaching them business skills, – about 6000 of them over the years. I shared everything I knew with them.

When the benefit was reduced I brought my toaster to work along with spread and marmalade or marmite so they had food. I trusted them and cared about them. I used to leave my personal effects lying around the classroom. My handbag, wallet, watch etc. Never once in ten years did any of those students steal anything from me. Not one single item ever disappeared. They knew I loved them. They knew that if they asked for help I would give it.

All I asked was that they reciprocated by helping others when they could, and I know that many did. I call it the ripple effect. I guess that very few if any of those people have become extremists, even though they spent time in poverty and deprivation. They had learnt about aroha, reciprocation of support, trust and education.

We now know what is important to us, what makes us New Zealanders. Freedom to worship; freedom of expression; safety from mad killing;
love in our hearts. Let this become our mantra.

These are the principles we must keep at the centre of our response to this tragedy. This is what we must ask our MP?s to treasure. These are the principles that must guide our responses in the weeks and months ahead.

Let us frame the language, the discussion, by repeating these tenets. Let us take responsibility for the world we are moving into by living by these beliefs. Let us demonstrate that love and freedom are not owned by the right or the left, but by all of us as proud New Zealanders.

And my love and thanks to all the Oilers who helped me. I am making a
comeback, although it has been a slow return, but knowing people cared has made it possible.