Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Reflection on Christchurch Massacre

Reflection on Christchurch Massacre

Ellie Hennessy

Year 6, Pymble Ladies' College

Why? How? What for? These are questions that keep circling my mind. The terror attack that unfolded in Christchurch recently has left me with mixed emotions: sadness, hope and respect for how the students, in particular, responded.

Sadness is an obvious emotion to feel when 50 innocent civilians are shot dead in their place of worship. A sacred place that should be safe. This sadness washed over people worldwide with messages of sympathy flooding the country. Families, friends and communities have experienced something that they believed would never happen. A number of victims moved to New Zealand from war torn countries believing it would be a safe place for their families. As New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “I am just so very sad, we are all very sad”. She also said that it is ok to grieve, and it is ok to ask for help. She encouraged everyone to not hide their emotions, rather show and embrace them.

Hope, particularly shared by Jacinda Arden, has been comforting. Hope that a similar attack will never occur on New Zealand soil again. Hope that those who lost loved ones know that their loss is shared. Hope that through the amazing unification and strength of the entire country the families of victims haven't lost faith in humanity. The hope I have heard and seen images of have re-instilled in me the goodness of mankind. Jacinda Ardern has shown compassion, kindness and hope so effectively and genuinely. New Zealand changed its gun laws in 72 hours to prevent such a violent attack occurring again. This action signifies the hope New Zealanders have that an attack like this will never happen again.

The images and videos of students from Cashmere High School in Christchurch performing the haka appealed to me. The students lost two fellow classmates. When they performed the haka, which was largely a tribute to their fallen classmates, emotions ran so very deep. They had to face grief head-on, yet still stay strong for each other in this difficult, sad time. Some of them had smiles on their faces which was outstanding given they are only teenagers and are having to work through the senseless and random death of their classmates. I found the power of their haka performance so inspiring.

What can I learn from the Christchurch massacre? It is ok to feel sad but with sadness comes hope. I am sad for the loss of innocent lives in the two mosques, but I am hopeful such a tragedy doesn't happen again. The student's response in Christchurch makes me feel this upcoming generation may be safer.