Yesterday, was called the darkest day in NZ’s history, by the Prime Minister – Jacinda Ardern) in the worst mass murders – shootings committed against Muslims, as an act of terrorism in Christchurch, New Zealand.

To date, some 49 people have been killed and still many remain in critical conditions, in Christchurch hospitals, as a result of a shooting rampage at two mosques but it also seems that the gunman, an Australian citizen, had sprayed bullets around the city before shooting his victims in the Mosques.

Many people have since been sending messages on social media, thoughts and prayers to the devastated communities of Christchurch. Others have lit candles, dropped off flowers to the various spots around the city and visited churches for prayer vigils for the victims and the friends and families.

Yesterday, during the height of the scare, schools were on lock down and mosques were too as the authorities tried to get a sense of what was happening in Christchurch while the rest of NZ and the world stood on alert as the story unravelled.

This senseless act of killing, or hate crime, has taken NZ by surprise as the first major act of terrorism of it’s kind to reach the shores of NZ, in having prided itself as a haven for multi-ethnic communities and seeing such attacks happening overseas.

It’s now come to light that the gunman may have taken at least two years to plan this attack and may have shared his views but wasn’t on a possible terrorist watch list and probably choose NZ to make a statement of his own kind as any many victims were Muslim immigrants seeking refuge from overseas situations.

As an unprecedented move and outpouring of support to those effected in the communities of Christchurch, the organisers of the largest Pasifika festival in the world i.e. the ‘Polyfest’ (Polynesian cultural dance Festival) in it’s 44th to date, has cancelled the festival in it’s fourth and final day in paying respect to grieving families and friends of the victims.

It demonstrates solidarity in standing with the mourning communities of Christchurch against this violent act of terrorism that an individual (with probable accomplices) felt that it was their right to act out. It is with much hope and prayers that it was the first and will be the last of it’s kind to ever be felt on our shores.

Although I feel for performing students, parents and schools who’ve put in so many hours of rehearsals and effort into each performance. It would have been inappropriate to continue on with festivities when in another part of NZ, mass funerals are being organised and others are still awaiting for the outcomes of hospital surgeries etc.

Our eldest was affected by this in now missing out on performing on the Tongan stage in her final year at high school and many youth around Auckland will now be waking up to the fact that our country is in a state of mourning and grieving for the loss of loved ones instead of celebrating our cultural diversity upon five main stages (Maori, Samoan, Cook Islands, Tongan and Niue) with 20 plus other cultural performances that won’t be staged today.

It is a sad day indeed for many reasons but a sobering thought that there are people out there in our communities who harbour such evil that they would feel the right to act out such hatred on innocent people that would affect a nation. God be with us in times like this…

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