Change is within us

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says change must come from all of us - not just by the Government.

As I write this, I can hardly believe we are one year on from the day that our nation stood devastated, mourning the loss of 51 members of our Muslim community - 51 of us.

It feels like yesterday - and for many the loss will feel as great now as it was that day. Things changed that day, and so we changed - and that included our laws.

This has included banning the type of weapon used in the attack. Globally, countries and companies have signed up to the Christchurch Call, a pledge that seeks to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online to stop the internet being used as a tool for terrorists - but that is only part of the story.

That is what the Government should do and has done, but the kind of change I believe New Zealanders want won’t occur if it is just left to the Government. It needs to be done by all of us. Every person must take responsibility for not only their own words and actions but for challenging those of others.

The most important things are those that we are all empowered to do. The main shift that we can achieve as a country will never be achieved by Government or by laws.

It will be achieved through the daily actions of all of us in calling out bullying and discrimination and by acting in a way that truly demonstrates inclusion. And when we do, we all benefit.

Last year, we asked children what they most wanted us to do for them. They listed many things, but what stood out for me was that they wanted to be able to be themselves and accepted for who they are.

This lies at the heart of the inclusion New Zealanders have spoken out about in the wake of March 15.

The fight against complacency must be ongoing. It would be too easy for the events of that terrible day to fade into history. That would be a disservice to the victims, the survivors and to every child who deserves to grow up in a country that welcomes, embraces and protects.

We must keep challenging ourselves to make sure the progress we have made endures.

A year ago, I said that we each hold the power, in our words and in our actions, in our daily acts of kindness. Let that be the legacy of the 15th of March.

One year on, I am repeating that call.

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