I’ve been processing and sitting on this for a while wondering if I should share this or not. Who would care about what I have to say? Is this too much? What has this got to do with guitar? I was conflicted and full of trepidation. I thought, if this story could touch someone’s heart or at least acknowledge the pain of the families of the victims then this was worth it. This story is a tribute to the 50 beautiful souls extinguished well before their time.
To our Muslim community As-salam ‘Alaykum – Peace be upon you.
This story is about a kiwi family… my family and I…how we were and still are processing the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings on 15 March 2019. How I happened to be heading to Christchurch on one of New Zealand’s darkest of days. I have found over the years, that sharing is a massive part of healing. Talking, writing and music especially have always been salvation and comfort to me.
Never in this lifetime would I ever thought something like the Christchurch mosque mass shooting would ever happen. My partner Tessa called me 5 minutes before I was due to leave home to board the airport shuttle. She was panicking and mentioned mass shootings a Mosque during prayer. I was struggling to process her call until I read all about it on Stuff.co.nz
I was booked on a flight to Christchurch that very day at 5:30 pm. The atmosphere at Dunedin airport was surreal. It felt like we were all trapped in what could have been a Liam Neeson film. I was praying I was dreaming like a lot of the faces around me. When I finally boarded the flight, I was sitting next to Paul, a Father of 2 on his way home. We talked the full length of the flight to both relieve our obvious anxiety. Paul’s kids were still at school on lockdown. I could only imagine how helpless he must have felt.
Landing in Christchurch all the gates where full. All outgoing flights had been grounded. We waited what felt like an eternity but eventually got off the plane. I can still remember Paul offering me a ride. I was gobsmacked, Wow. I had family coming but I was touched by his kind gesture.
Staying with family, luckily everyone was safe. One family member had been at the hospital. She was studying to be a nurse and there had been bomb threats just hours before. The next morning the city was like a ghost town. You could have easily mistaken it for a Christmas day except for the heavy atmosphere of the few souls you saw.
I can tell you when I finally landed home on Monday I was close to tears.
Pictured in my mind was an image of the Dalai Lama blessing and kissing the ground. I couldn’t help but think about how I wanted to as well, thankful to be home safe.
Picking my kids up from school I was impatiently waiting for 3 pm. I have always had open communication with my kids (Noah 6 and Aviah 9) We talked about the shooting and shared our thoughts and feelings. They, like myself, were just trying to make sense of the whole damn thing.
How does one explain such a thing? Never in this lifetime did I ever expect such a surreal, disgusting event to take place on Kiwi soil.
There are some sick people in the word I said to my kids sadly.
The shooter, this particular monster had such a distorted view of the world.
I said to them both picture this…
If life is about colouring your journey with all the experiences life has to offer…How do you paint this with one colour? Our diversity is what fills our lives with the beautiful colours of other cultures, music, food, everything you can imagine. They got it.
My family and I as well as over 18,000 others attended Forsyth Barr Stadium for the memorial for the 50 victims killed. The kids patiently sat there and took it all in. I told them in years to come, you will tell your own children that you were here paying your respects to those who had their lives taken.
What followed was very moving. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull Spoke with incredible passion. The Muslim community shared their beautiful prayers through a very heart-wrenching song. It was so beautiful to see everyone there supporting and embracing the Muslim community as they are. Kiwis… not outsiders. Like all our other nationalities that come to call New Zealand home.
I’m proud to be a father, a son, a partner, a self-made entrepreneur. But today I am most proud to be a Kiwi… and a Patriot of this beautiful land of diverse people we call Aotearoa we call home.
If you would like to show your support and donate to the families of the victims please visit the give a little page link below.https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/chch-mosque-shooting-victims