I visited the city of Christchurch on May 23, 2018, as part of a larger speaking tour in New Zealand that also took me to Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin.
New Zealand is an exceptional country, different from other countries that are often lumped under the generalized designation of the ‘western world.’ Almost immediately after my arrival to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most populous city, I was struck by the overt friendliness, hospitality and diversity.
This is not to downgrade the ongoing struggles in the country, lead among them being the campaign for land rights as championed by the Maori people, the original inhabitants of New Zealand; but, indeed, there was something refreshingly different about New Zealanders.
Just the fact that the Maori language, “Te Reo”, is one of the three official languages in the country, the others being English and Sign Language, immediately sets New Zealand apart from other colonized spaces, where indigenous peoples, cultures, languages and rights are, to various extents, inconsequential.
It is due to the empowered position of the indigenous Maori culture, that New Zealand is, compared to other countries, more inclusive and more accepting of refugees and immigrants. And that is likely why New Zealand – and Christchurch, in particular – was chosen as a target for the terrorist attacks carried out by an Australian national on March 15.
The Australian terrorist…