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New Zealand’s Muslim whānau were targeted. The victims were exercising their right to freedom of conscience and religion in a democratic society. They should have been able to do so in peace and safety.
The Muslim community in New Zealand is diverse. It includes, but also extends beyond, some of those who have arrived in this country as refugees or migrants. Now more than ever, it's important that Kiwis reach out to former refugees in their community so that they know they are safe and welcome here.
It has been encouraging to see a continued outpouring of kindness and compassion across the country, but New Zealand still faces a long journey to rebuild communities to a point where people feel safe again.
Within hours of the attack, New Zealand Red Cross teams were in action. The local Disaster Welfare and Support Team (DWST) headed straight to the Civil Defence Centre to provide basic psychosocial support to victims’ family and friends. The Restoring Family Links service was activated, giving worried family and friends an opportunity to register an enquiry if they hadn’t been able to get in touch with loved ones.
Meanwhile migration teams around the country worked to check in with former refugees and provide whatever practical and emotional support they could. This work continues six months on.
Friday 15 March was a dark day for New Zealand. It can also be the day we refused to give in to, or accept, hate and discrimination in all its forms. Openness, and commitment to humanitarian principles and egalitarianism are core to who we are as Kiwis and what we value.
It is important not to underestimate the power of people working together across their differences to confront the challenges we face together: to protect life and health, to promote dignity and to ensure respect for every human being.
New Zealand Red Cross remains determined to work with others to show that we are defined by our common humanity, as well as with even more commitment to building peaceful, diverse and strong communities.
How you can help
We are the primary provider of community refugee settlement programmes in New Zealand. Our programmes support and empower new Kiwis as they rebuild their lives here.
You can help by becoming a Refugee Support Volunteer.