Nothing in recent history has shocked New Zealand as much as last week’s terrorist attacks in Christchurch.
Kiwis shell-shocked and benumbed by rolling news bulletins of the unfolding event cancelled engagements across the country to deal with swirling fears of copycat attacks, potential violent retaliation and a deep sense of despondency.
The last day of the popular Pacific youth festival, PolyFest, was cancelled, as was the following week’s two-day annual Pasifika Festival due to be held at Western Springs. Pasifika is the world’s largest Polynesian festival.
A number of vendors and visitors plan months in advance for the festival. A number of businesspeople from Samoa, who sell their wares at the two-day event were already here and have been left with nowhere to go with the merchandise they brought all the way from Samoa at tremendous expense.
A communal Holi festival event to celebrate the Indian festival of colours was also cancelled, with some others rescheduling with a view to raise funds for those affected by the attacks.
Music concerts that were to be held the next day after the attacks in Auckland were also put off or altogether cancelled. Big gigs and sports fixtures in Wellington and Christchurch were also similarly deferred.
The shockwaves from Christchurch spread through the region. In Fiji, the Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry cancelled its Holi celebration, an annual event that is eagerly looked forward to by the Nadi community.
This week, the authorities having started the handover of the remains of the deceased to their loved ones, and the families being able to grieve properly and contemplate closure, the country is slowly limping back to normalcy in terms of hosting events.
However, all will be tinged with the sadness that hangs heavily over the country and many have incorporated a small ceremony for condolences and even fund raisers for those affected by the tragedy.