From the Dean's Office
It’s normal for me to write my monthly newsletter around this time, but considering recent tragic events it just doesn’t feel right to do so.
This month’s unspeakable acts of violence not only tore families apart in Christchurch, but ripped through the hearts of all New Zealanders.
Vigils and remembrance ceremonies around the electorate brought communities together.
A shocking tragedy and a loss of innocence
Each of us will have reacted to the shocking events in our own way. For me I was filled with a great sense of sadness - not only for the loss of life, but for the loss of our sense of peace in New Zealand.
Up until now we have watched from afar as horrible terrorist attacks have rocked other countries, grieving for them, praying for them, but also safe in the knowledge that similar things will never happen here.
That innocence has now been lost in New Zealand.
I feel for those directly affected, and for the wider Canterbury community in dealing with this sickening tragedy, but I also feel for children and young people right across the country who must now live with the knowledge of this terrible moment which has changed their country forever.
Wanaka people offered flowers in remembrance of the victims
Out of darkness comes light, love and hope
Yet through the darkness there is light, and love and hope. I encourage you all to continue to show compassion and kindness to one another. Reach out to those who are new to our communities, make our region an inclusive place where all faiths and ethnicities are respected and welcomed.
Yes our country changed on Friday March 15, but I have also observed a shift in mood since that time. People have come together in peace and love. They have shown their solidarity with the Islamic community and they have delivered a clear message of friendship, tolerance and conciliation.
I signed the condolence book at Parliament on behalf of the people of the Waitaki electorate
Communities unite in the face of adversity
Beautiful vigils and combined church services have been held across the country, including Wanaka, Oamaru, Clyde, Waimate, Kurow and Cromwell. Prayer services have been conducted at local churches, gang members have guarded mosques and Waitaki women have worn head scarves as a gesture of support for the Muslim community.
My hope is that this new openness, kindness and consideration for one another will continue and flourish into the future.
Oamaru businesses showed support for Christchurch.
Let compassion, goodwill and understanding reign
If we are to take anything from the tragic events in Christchurch this month, let it be that compassion, goodwill and understanding are truly part of who we are as New Zealanders.
Let this be our new benchmark, let this be our standard and let this change us all for the better.
Hon Jacqui Dean
MP for Waitaki