15 March 2020, 10am
Planned speech for 15 March commemorations; unable to be delivered due to the extraordinary circumstances we are in.
I am pleased and privileged to be here with you today, on behalf of the people of Wellington.
We join with the Muslim community in solemn remembrance of the horrific events of a year ago.
It is a deeply sombre time for us all, as we remember one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history. There’s great sadness still for lost family, friends, neighbours and countrymen and women.
We will never forget them or the hateful act that took them from us.
At the same time, we stand in solidarity with the Muslim community, looking towards a better future.
I believe that as a country we responded at the time with compassion and determination to address the underlying issues.
We need to keep up that momentum, the job is not done. Sadly in our own city we continue to see acts of intolerance and hatred. We see the defacement of Jewish sites with Nazi symbols. We see violent acts of homophobia at the Pride Parade.
These acts are based on ignorance, a lack of understanding or empathy and in a very few cases outright racism. Those things have no place in my Wellington.
So I have asked my staff for advice on what more the Council can do to help stamp them out, working with local groups in the community.
I am also going to re-raise the issue when I next meet with the local Police Commander, which is in a few weeks. I will be asking him what more we can do together to protect the people of Wellington from such attacks.
At the very least, we need to keep talking with each other and learning and appreciating more about each other’s’ cultures.
I would like to finish with a simple message to all Muslims in Wellington.
I want to say again to my Muslim friends, that Wellington is your home. We are proud of our city’s diversity, and warmly embrace all faiths, religions and cultures.
We will do everything we can to make you feel welcome, safe and an integral part of our community.
As the Prime Minister so beautifully put it last year, ‘we are one’.
Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou, Tēnā koutou katoa