Wellington, September 8, 2021
We were all shocked by the violent knife attack last Friday at Auckland’s New Lynn Countdown.
My heart goes out to the victims, and I wish them the very best for recovery. My heart also goes out to the witnesses, shoppers, staff who were caught up in this. That is not what you expect when going out for groceries. I thank our New Zealand Police for their quick response, and for the ongoing work they do every day to keep us safe.
I also want to express my support and aroha for our Sri Lankan and Islamic communities, who I know feel this deeply. I have reached out to leaders in both the Sri Lankan and Islamic communities and it is good to hear they generally felt everyone is feeling ok, but messages of support are very welcome.
Rejecting racism, embracing inclusion
I believe New Zealanders are quite clear that ‘we are one.’ We are emphatic in rejecting racism, and embracing inclusion, just as we were in the wake of the atrocity in Christchurch in March 2019.
We recognise that this was, again, the act of a single extremist, not of a wider community. That community is a precious part of us, of Aotearoa New Zealand.
A privilege of being Mayor of Wellington, and something I particularly treasure, is regularly coming together with all parts of our diverse community.
Covid lockdowns excepted, every week I will get together, often on multiple occasions, with some of our many ethnicities, faiths, rainbow groups, street people. Among other events this year I was delighted to attend the launch of the Ministry for Ethnic Communities in June, the first Annual Meeting of the Tamil Sangam in July, and earlier Ramadan, Eid, and United Sri Lankan Association gatherings.
Caring and sharing with communities
It is sharing, it is culture, it is food, fun, friendship, inclusion. Our Sri Lankan and Islamic people contribute so much to our nation. Diversity brings colour, vibrancy, interest, just as it does in a forest or a garden. When welcoming new citizens at our monthly citizenship ceremonies, I say that this is about embracing your future, not about rejecting your past.
This land should be the Turangawaewae, the place to stand, to belong, for all of us.
I am immensely proud of our Wellington Interfaith Council which does so much good work building understanding and friendship between faiths, for which earlier this year they received the UN World Interfaith Harmony award over 132 other entries.
Inclusion, inclusion, inclusion is a central part of our kaupapa. It is who we are, it is what we do. Aotearoa New Zealand is our Turangawaewae – for all of us. We are all in this one waka together, he waka eke noa.
Andy Foster is Mayor of Wellington.