Notice of Motion : Norway (Dr Pita Sharples)

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Today marks another occasion in the life of this 49thParliament, when we stand, shoulder to shoulder, to share a collective grief at the loss of life on such an immense scale.

The massacre on the island in Oslo unfolded on 22 July, exactly five months to the day since the Canterbury earthquake robbed our nation of so many lives. And so we feel that sense of tragic futility that comes in the wake of a disaster of such scale.

But we have another special connection to the events that played out in Norway, which come through our relationship to Sharidyn Meegan Ngahiwi Svebakk-Bohn.

A young woman described as beautiful, caring and vigorous.

A young woman mourned by her grandfather, Rex Matthews of Kahungunu, living in Porirua.

A mokopuna also sadly missed by the people of Tuhoe.

Sharidyn – known as Sissi – was, from all accounts, thriving in the activities of the youth camp on Utoya Island.

She had turned 14, just five days before being shot down at the camp by Anders Breivik; he who stands accused of killing 77 people in the bombing and shooting rampage.

A young woman, robbed of experiencing the fullness of life. Someone described as a courageous young lady who took every challenge with ease. A child who had been nurtured by her family to care for others, to be a proud tuakana to her sisters, to make an energetic and compassionate contribution to our society.

Our sympathies are extended to her parents, her two younger sisters, and the wider whanau whether here at home, or in Norway.

Rest in Peace, Sissie and all those who lost their lives that fateful day.

I have no desire to give further airtime to the vile racism and murderous intent executed on this horrific day. The global condemnation of this massacre has an unfortunate consequence of drawing attention to the ideology the gunman sought to promote.

I want to instead focus on the message that the Prime Minister of Norway expressed, and that was a message of restraint.

Jens Stoltenberg called on political leaders to show restraint as they react to the savage violence meted out on the 77 victims of the bombing and the youth camp attack.

His words are very insightful.

He told Parliament that the July 22 attacks gave reason to contemplate ”whether we could have expressed ourselves differently – that goes for politicians, for editors, in the canteen and on the Net.

The Judiciary and indeed the Court of public opinion will make their respective judgements about the actions of the confessed killer and the appropriate sentence he should receive.

What we have a responsibility to do, is to focus on the families bereft of loved ones; the community feeling as if their sense of peace and stability has been irreversibly threatened; the global nation as we respond to the profound grief and sorrow experienced in Norway just ten days ago.

The Maori Party joins with others in this House, to express our utmost sympathy to the families associated with this dreadful day in the history of Norway.

We acknowledge too, the particular loss for the Labour Party who connect to their colleagues across the globe.

And we resolve to continue to promote the values that we have inherited and are found in tikanga and kaupapa Maori as a means of supporting us all in finding a pathway forward during times of duress.

These kaupapa remind us to place value on unity through diversity.

Na reira, tena koutou katoa

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