Ara Taiohi message in regards to the tragedy in Christchurch

Firstly I need to acknowledge the grief, pain and courage of all those affected by the terror event on Friday,  especially that of our Muslim whānau, and our friends in Ōtautahi.

If I could pause in written communication here I would. In this pause so much rests. Pain, hope, anger, aroha, sorrow, awhi, fear, and something intangible, that there are not words for.

But time doesn’t stand still. Since the actions of hate on Friday a nation has risen, and responded. We have contacted as many of our wider youth development whānau affected as possible, and have been stunned by their actions.

The young people of Ōtautahi and the nation are leading vigils, and on Saturday students are leading a March for Love.

Youth Workers from the Canterbury Youth Workers Collective are recognised by Council and Police as an essential presence at these events, to support and awhi our young people. Many of our members are on the front line responding directly to needs.

Friends have bravely dropped everything and reprioritised where their presence in Ōtautahi is needed, and friends have bravely acknowledged where their presence would be unnecessary, and possibly unhelpful.

National organisations are looking at how they ensure their communities in Ōtautahi are supported and equipped to continue to be responsive.

I have been contacted by a number of our members asking how we as a youth development community are responding to this event.

I am inspired. Young people and youth development are leading the way in ensuring Aotearoa is place where all people are valued and celebrated. Of ensuring that our nation will be known as a place where terror and hatred is overwhelmed by a culture of love, peace and that values diversity.

We know that many are doing great mahi in this space. Here are some practical suggestions from some of our members around how you might support the efforts in Ōtautahi. If you have any further suggestions that could be useful to our membership, please let us know.

Our friends at Red Cross have advised the following:

“At this stage we have not opened a special appeal, however, we are monitoring the situation closely. Local community organisations are actively fundraising to directly support the families of the victims and we feel they are best placed to do this. For anyone who wants to specifically support New Zealand Red Cross, they can do so by donating to “Where the need is greatest” on our website. This is how we are funding all our activities on the ground in Christchurch, and will also continue to support our work with former refugees.”

Over the weekend, our friends at SCOUTS worked with material provided by the UK and Australia to develop a toolkit for addressing terrorism. The audience the publication is aimed at are adults working with young people. The activities are aimed at young people aged 5 to 26. They have kindly shared this resource with us. You can find the document by following the link here: Addressing Terrorism: A toolkit for Leaders (SCOUTS New Zealand)

ActionStation has also posted some very helpful ways to practically support our Muslim whānau both in the immediate and into the future here.

Our friends at 24-7 YouthWork have arranged an event called Colour Your Day this Friday 22 March that you may wish to participate in.

We have found that this Spinoff article is really useful to look at if you are looking for ways to support – it includes donation links, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.With all of these efforts, we know some in Aotearoa (wherever you live) will be feeling isolated and lonely.  If this is you, please reach out.  We would feel privileged if you chose to contact us so we can have a chat.

Ngā mihi nui,

Jane and the Ara Taiohi whānau ❤️

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