Thoughts from Dunedin

Friday 15th March


At lunchtime I applaud our beautiful tamariki for protesting climate change. Calling for global action. Inspirational. Our younger generation leading the way for the planet. I’m so proud I want to hug them all. The world is looking up.


After lunch, I sit in the audience for a panel discussion at ID Fashion when my silent phone keeps buzzing. The talk is of sustainability and the challenges ahead for designers. I look at the desperate message from my adult son. ‘This is happening in Christchurch, right now!’

I check the link. Not an earthquake.


Walking outside, there are still people who don’t know. Taking selfies, buying clothes, drinking coffee. Laughing in the sunshine. I want a megaphone so I can shout to them, ‘Stop, stop, our world is now different!’

Fashion seems irrelevant. Red is all the rage.


Saturday 16th March


I go for a walk. The New Zealand flag is at half mast. Events have been cancelled but Gun City is open. ‘6 Fun shooting activities you can have without a firearms licence! ‘The ad features a man with his tiny children, laughing and bonding over a tripod mounted weapon. Aiming at targets, finger on the trigger. Kapow. So much family fun to be had.


A visiting friend and I make our way to the mosque, buying the last sad bunch of lilies at Veggie Boys.

‘There’s been a run on them today’ says the girl at the counter.

A group of students walk alongside us clutching posies of wild flowers plucked from gardens, maybe their flats, maybe someone elses. Nobody would begrudge a stolen bloom today, headed for a memorial, an offering of sorrow. We lay our flowers down, a poor substitute for regret, but all we can do right now. Two more students tie a bunting of international flags to the railings. A young Samoan girl writes ‘We love you’ inside a heart, with pink pavement chalk.

Aroha, sorry, we are not this, this is your home, spelled out in pastels.


An official sign on the mosque gate, that has been there forever says:

‘The Messenger said: do not harm or reciprocate harm’. And something about making sure you park legally please.


Parked outside on their feet are two policemen. It’s a shock to see the black weapons in their arms. They hold them like an uncomfortable apology, shaped like death.


Huddles of Muslim people. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to intrude.

We start to walk away and there is one young woman in a hijab staring at the all the tributes.

I touch her hand and say clumsily, ‘I am so, so sorry,’ and we fall into each other’s arms and sob. I hold her tight and she holds me tighter. My friend embraces her too. There is comfort in a single act of touch. For us maybe more than this woman. We want to be forgiven for our country becoming this horror for her.

We walk home my friend and I, swiping at our wet faces.


There are green clad students partying on a rooftop. Early St Patricks Day. One boy leans over and vomits again and again and again, over the wall into the garden. A waterfall of chunks. He gets up, steadies himself and opens another beer to the cheers of his mates. Later he will climb aboard a Lime Scooter, fall off it and clog up the overburdened emergency department with a broken leg. His parents will be so proud he’s at Uni in Otago, all his future ahead of him.  He doesn’t look like the praying sort.

Sunday 17th March

I hear there’s a rush on gun sales before the law change on ownership.

Thoughts from Dunedin
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