‘We were chosen because we represent diversity’ – New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern on terrorist attacks at Mosques
Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand, photo supplied
Our Web Desk
By making a historic statement after the brutal terrorist attacks at two mosques in her country, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has become cynosure across the world. She said rhetoric of racism, division and extremism should not have a place in New Zealand or in society as a whole.
‘We were chosen because we represent diversity’ she said after the attacks. “We have undoubtedly experienced an attack that is unprecedented but New Zealand has been chosen because we are a place where violent extremism has been rejected. We will and must reject it. This is not an enclave for that kind of ideology. This is a place where people should and will feel secure. I am not going to let this change New Zealand’s profile”, she asserted.
We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages, and amongst that diversity, we share common values. And the one that we place currency on right now is our compassion and the support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy and secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people that did this.
Below, an edited transcript of her remarks, and responses to journalists’ questions.
I have now had the opportunity to be fully briefed with the details of the unprecedented events that took place in Christchurch.
It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.
From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects’ vehicles have been found and disarmed. Three people connected to the attack are in custody, one of which has publicly stated that they were Australian born.
These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world.
While we do not have any reason to believe at this stage that there are other suspects, we are not assuming that at this stage. The joint intelligence group has been deployed and police are putting all of their resources into this situation.
I have spoken this evening to the mayor of Christchurch and I intend to speak this evening to the imam, but I also want to send a message to those directly affected.
Photos: NZers gather to mourn Christchurch mosque terror attack victims https://t.co/tH61wc0j6g
— RNZ News (@rnz_news) March 16, 2019
In fact, I am sure right now New Zealand would like me to share a message on their behalf too.
Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have been impacted today. Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many this may not have been the place they were born, in fact for many New Zealand was their choice, the place they actively came to and committed themselves to, the place they were raising their families, where they were part of communities that they loved and who loved them, it was a place that many came to for its safety, a place where they were free to practise their culture and their religion.
For those of you who are watching at home tonight and questioning how this could have happened here, we, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are a safe harbour for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we’re an enclave for extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things, because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those that share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.
You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you.
If those involved were known from a security perspective, they were not on any active watch list. It’s not a matter of someone not having slipped under radar. It is early days, people are in custody, obviously being questioned.
We have undoubtedly experienced an attack that is unprecedented but New Zealand has been chosen because we are a place where violent extremism has been rejected. We will and must reject it. This is not an enclave for that kind of ideology. This is a place where people should and will feel secure. I am not going to let this change New Zealand’s profile.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, and grew up rurally. She attended a Morrinsville College before graduating from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Politics and Public Relations.
Post-university, she worked as an advisor in the office of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, in London for the Government Cabinet Office and as an Assistant Director in the Department for Business and Enterprise, and on a review of Policing in England and Wales.
The Prime Minister joined the New Zealand Labour Party at age 18 and entered New Zealand’s Parliament in 2008. Over her eleven years as a representative she has been a strong advocate for children, women, and the right of every New Zealander to have meaningful work.
She became the MP for the Auckland electorate Mt Albert in early 2017, and the Leader of the Labour Party in August 2017. As well as Prime Minister, she holds the roles of Minister for National Security and Intelligence, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, an issue particularly close to her heart.