In the days following the horrific Christchurch terrorist attack, New Zealand and New Zealanders under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s leadership have become the cynosure of the world’s eyes.
In recent times rarely has a world leader attracted such universal praise for leadership in a crisis as Ms Ardern. She has received accolades from people and leaders from all walks of life across the globe – and these have been amplified in media reports.
Most people saw her responses – both symbolic and political – as genuine.
She said she would never so much as even utter the perpetrator’s name. She wore a headscarf while meeting with the loved ones of the deceased, injured and the community. She urged New Zealanders to voluntarily surrender their weapons – which drew a good response, with people streaming in to do so.
The sheer shock of the tragic incident and her astute leadership even saw traditional gun using groups and businesses act almost instantaneously – TradeMe banned the sale of guns and so did stores like hunting and fishing and some others.
On the political front, she moved the administrative machinery to urgently prepare grounds for a drastic but long overdue legislative change to laws governing gun ownership. A petition with more than 70,000 signatures was delivered to parliament.
A strong official protest was registered against social media giants who did little or nothing to spread of the perpetrator’s live videos and documents that were accessed across the world. There have also been media reports of potential legal action against New Zealanders who shared the videos, with strong action from their employers.
Several New Zealand advertisers have voluntarily pulled their advertising from the social media platforms in sheer disgust.
Kind hearted New Zealanders raised more than $9 million within a matter of days and the government came forth funding funerals and promising to do everything it can to help affected families. One of these measures was fast tracking the visa process for the families and loved ones of the deceased and injured.
One week after the incident, parliament opened with a Muslim prayer followed by a nationwide two minutes of silence in tribute to the departed souls.
Stories of hundreds of acts of kindness like the Indian community’s places of worship providing free food, taxi drivers offering free rides and other altruistic acts have been swirling, showing the strong, resilient Kiwi spirit that is also full of compassion.
Kiwis and our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have truly set an example for the world.
A pity that it took the sacrifice of 50 lives before we had the good sense to ban deadly weapons whose sole purpose is mass murder.