Christchurch to get rare bravery award

The city of Christchurch will receive a special bravery award after its response to March 15,...
The city of Christchurch will receive a special bravery award after its response to March 15, 2019, mosque attacks. Photo: Supplied
Christchurch city, and its citizens, are set to receive a rare bravery award for their response to the March 15, 2019, mosque terror attacks.

A ceremony on Friday night will see the city and citizens of Christchurch receive a representative Gold medal bravery award from the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand for their response to the shootings where 51 people were murdered.

It's the second time the people of Christchurch have received the award - the last one being presented in 2012 in recognition of the bravery shown by "persons known and unknown" during and following the deadly February 22, 2011, Christchurch earthquake.

President of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand, Austin Forbes QC, says a Gold medal award is only given in exceptional circumstances.

"There have been only two Gold medal bravery awards awarded in the last 50 years, so the fact that the city and citizens of Christchurch are receiving the award for the second time in a decade is extraordinary.

"The Royal Humane Society believes this is a fitting tribute to the many people, known and unknown, who performed acts of bravery and humanity on that day in Christchurch.

"Many people acted selflessly to help their fellow citizens on that day and that is what this special award is in recognition of."

The Royal Humane Society's representative Gold medal will be presented at the launch of the Christchurch Invitation: Mahia Te Aroha on Friday night.

It will be one of seven representative Gold medal awards that will be presented on the night by the Governor-General and the society's patron, Dame Patsy Reddy, which is an unprecedented number of Gold medal bravery awards to be awarded at one time and in response to one event.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel will receive the award on behalf of the city and citizens of Christchurch.

"It will be my honour to receive this award on behalf of the people of this city," she said.

"On March 15, 2019, our city was shocked to the core by the terrorist attack on members of our Muslim community at Al Nur Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre at their time of prayer.

"This is an opportunity to acknowledge the members of the wider Christchurch community, including passersby and neighbours, who selflessly stepped in to save lives and to offer protection and support.

"We will never know all of the people who performed acts of heroism and humanity on 15 March 2019 and the days following, but this award from the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand honours each and every one of them."

Christchurch Invitation: Mahia Te Aroha has been developed by members of the Christchurch Muslim community as a way to ensure the extraordinary response of aroha, compassion and mutual support seen in Christchurch following the events of March 15, 2019 are harnessed.

Co-founder Anthony Green says the Christchurch Invitation aims to foster a more compassionate, stronger society where all of its members can feel safe.

"In launching this movement, we are seeking to celebrate the rich diversity of our shared humanity while confronting the causes of prejudice and hate.

"It recognises that every one of us has a part to play in shaping a better future that promotes kindness and understanding towards others, regardless of race or belief, and it will demonstrate how we can all do that through simple everyday actions and behaviours."

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