James Shaw: We must look out for one another in wake of Christchurch shootings

Opinion 29/03/2019
James Shaw. Photo: Getty.

By James Shaw, Green Party co-leader.

OPINION: No surprises over what I want to talk about; the terror that tore apart families and stole loved ones from whānau in Christchurch leaving them and us shocked and grieving as a nation.

Understandably, there has been much questioning about how this could have happened.

Many views have been offered about where this terror came from. And people want assurances it won’t happen again.

The Government has moved swiftly. Within hours the Prime Minister declared, unequivocally, that our gun laws would change.

At an extended Cabinet meeting within days, where I was present, all ministers agreed, in principle, to gun law reform.

And less than a week after Friday’s horror the Prime Minister confirmed bans on military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles.

Our security services, police and border control agencies are also under review to see how and why this terrorism was able to happen.

These are all important steps to understand as much as we can about what happened, why it happened, and find ways to prevent it happening again.

But there are further crucial steps which we must continue to take.

We must ensure that the many, many people who have been traumatised by the events of Friday 15 March get access to help and counselling when they need it.

We know it is the “Kiwi way” to be stoic in the face of adversity and trauma, but what people witnessed first-hand, and the shock other New Zealanders felt from further away will have challenged even the most stoic among us.

We must be mindful of that. We must be alert for the signs of stress that may manifest in the days, weeks and months that follow.

We must be aware that mental healing needs to happen alongside the physical healing and the official responses to the terrorism that cast its dark cloud over Aotearoa New Zealand.

Help is available through the ‘1737, need to talk?’ national mental health and addictions helpline via text of phone call anytime.

  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

James Shaw is co-leader of the Green Party.