Wellington, July 20,2023
Parliament heard a ministerial statement from Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni, and responses from the political parties, in relation to the tragic firearms incident that unfolded in Auckland this morning.
Sepuloni began by recounting how the morning commute in Tamaki-makau-rau Auckland came to a halt after “reports of a person discharging a firearm inside a site on lower Queen Street.”
The House was informed that two people had died and “also the male offender is deceased.”She said police had confirmed an officer had been injured as well as five members of the public. The police officer was transported to hospital in a critical condition, but his condition had stabilised.
Sepuloni assured the House that there was no national security risk. She thanked the New Zealand Police, the armed offenders squad, and St John Ambulance for “acting and responding as swiftly as they did this morning.”
Sepuloni noted that “in a country like our own, this is the last thing you would expect to encounter on your morning commute or whilst doing your job,” but praised the rapid response from the police.
She reiterated that the incident appeared “to be the actions of one individual and there is no wider national security threat, nor are police seeking anybody else in relation to the incident.”
Sepuloni acknowledged the visitors to New Zealand who “are staying in Auckland currently for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
“This event has not been impacted and will proceed as planned,” she told the members.
Sepuloni also acknowledged the impact the tragic event that unfolded in Auckland this morning had on those who witnessed it or were in “close proximity to this situation.”
“To the loved ones and whanau of the victims, I know that words cannot heal trauma, but I want you to know that there is much strength to be drawn from solidarity and community, something that we as Aucklanders and New Zealanders offer up in spades,” Sepuloni said.
Speaking on behalf of the opposition National Party Chris Bishop expressed shock and sadness at the shooting and the huge police response witnessed in Auckland. “To see armed police swarming through the area, including regular police, the armed offenders squad, and the Special Tactics Group, was a sight that was both confronting and reassuring,” he noted.
Bishop added: “We know that two people who probably went to work this morning will not be going home tonight because they were killed.”
Bishop acknowledged the police who “put public safety ahead of their own.”
ACT Party leader David Seymour commended the police for “unfailingly rising to challenges” and described them, as well as the staff from St. John Ambulance, as “real heroes.”
Referring to the offender, Seymour said: “People will ask why such a person was on home detention and able to go to work in spite of the allegedly very serious crimes they’ve been convicted of.”But now, it was time to “wrap ourselves around those who have been hurt badly, egregiously, through no fault of their own.”
Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson, while expressing her shock and sadness at the tragedy that happened in Auckland, expressed relief that her daughter who was on her way to Central Auckland this morning was “thankfully, able to avoid going there and work from home.”
Acknowledging the police officer who was shot, she said “no one should have to go to work with the expectation of being harmed. But I do know that that is a sacrifice that our front-line agencies and forces willingly and generously avail themselves to, and I really acknowledge that.”
She noted that “migrant communities are over represented in the construction sector,” adding that support services must be there for “everyone who needs them, including those who may not have the deeper community support that we might expect and assume of everyone else.”
Rounding out the session, Deputy Prime Minister Sepuloni acknowledged that, in the coming days and weeks, “I’m sure there will be questions asked, and there should be when instances like this occur.”
Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington