An Australian born national went into two mosques in Christchurch on Friday the 15th of March and shot dead 50 people and injured numerous more individuals. New Zealand’s international reputation will be impacted by the first major terrorist attack in our nation’s history. New Zealand prides itself on being an open and accepting nation, a view which the terrorist does not share. Our country has been tested by these events and across the globe there are attentive eyes on what our nation will come to represent after the attacks, specifically the actions of our leader Jacinda Ardern. Ardern is New Zealand’s youngest female prime minister in history and has already challenged societal expectations on women and leadership with running New Zealand while being a first-time mother. This means that the globe will watch ever more closely as to the response that New Zealand will take in the present and future to the gunman and his actions.
Her response to the terrorist attack has been none other than revolutionary. Within hours of the attack Ardern was addressing the nation, illustrating a message of hope, love and peace. Her response to ban the spread of the livestream the perpetrator took is significantly lessening the extent of anyone committing further tyranny on the minority communities in New Zealand. Within days she banned semi-automatic weapons and drastically changed the gun culture and legalization of New Zealand. An act which is admired globally and makes us question why gun reform has not occurred elsewhere in the world in response to mass terrorism. Ardern preaches strength in New Zealand and our values, challenging New Zealanders to call out acts of everyday racism to prevent extremist views being shared. And while Ardern describes the fateful day as one of New Zealand’s “darkest days,” she is making positive and provocative change just shy of two weeks from the event to prevent other terrorist attacks occurring on New Zealand soil. Her response to push for acceptance of those who have chose to make New Zealand their home by downing a hijab and being with the families of the victims hours mere hours after her government was notified, is extraordinary and shows the truth in her leadership in uniting a country that is mourning its innocence and is struggling to come to terms with the fact that such an act could occur in our New Zealand. Furthermore, her approach to urging people not to share the name of the gunman nor his cause but remember the victims is an act so pious and caring that many have petitioned for her to receive the medal of peace.
While New Zealand’s actions are being closely watched around the globe we can see a country that is unifying to condemn the actions of terrorists, support those scared, help the victims and begin to try and heal as a nation from the shocking and ever changed actions of one extremist individual who attacked people only trying to express themselves through prayer.