The decision of cancellation of 58 ANZAC Day celebrations in Auckland is a stark reminder of the vicious impact that terrorism can have on societies, to an extent to potentially change the face of the nation.
This is despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leading the empathetic response to the crisis of the Christchurch terror attack to ensure that no permanent scars are left on communities and we continue to remain an inclusive and welcoming society.
However, being an inclusive and welcoming society is just one aspect of our collective national identity. Celebrating the spirit of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) every year on April 25 is another integral part of our national identity.
An unbridled celebration of the spirit of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) every year on April 25 has been the very foundation of New Zealand, whereby a thankful citizenry remembers its fallen soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation.
Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the Great War (1914–1918).
Subsequently, it became a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.
From ethnic migrants’ perspective, who have come from different parts of the world to settle in this country, and have found themselves first baffled, and then amused, on seeing how celebrations around nationhood can happen with civic participation without any presence of law enforcement agencies and state authorities.
Sadly, the incident of Christchurch mosque shooting is threatening to take away that pure absolute joy that we New Zealanders were blessed with so far – suggesting how terrorism can change the faces of the nations, forcing them to encroach civil liberties and accumulate asymmetrical power vis-a-vis their own citizenry.
And this is despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s most empathetic response to the unfortunate crisis and wishful thinking that the incident does not change us as a nation.
The fact that this year not only two-thirds of Auckland's Anzac Day services have been cancelled, but also those that are still on schedule, will only happen under an increased police presence – a marked aberration from the past - and a sign how our destiny can potentially change as a nation.
While everyone in New Zealand, including the police and the state authorities, are hopeful that this is just a passing phase that will leave no permanent scar on the face of the nation, it is important reminder to everyone that the threat of violence and communal disharmony, can sometimes be so overpowering for states to handle.
It might be a good learning curve for the New Zealand polity on how to engage more purposefully and compassionately with other countries on the international stage, including India, who have been caught up in the vicious cycle of terrorist and counter-terrorist violence.
For now, New Zealand can count on its luck, that our response to this, hopefully, a single act of terror, did not involve any overwhelming use of firepower.
However, the manner in which armed police was deployed and continued to be deployed across vulnerable areas do suggest the state-will to respond to any other act of terror with equal or more firepower.
International experience has shown that sometimes states are cornered, where acts of terrorism are followed by violent crackdowns that can fast become a cycle that is difficult to disrupt.
Welcome to the real world, New Zealand.