Dear members and whanau
I write to you today with deep sadness and a very heavy heart. The terrorist attack, which took place at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday 15th March 2019, has shocked us all. I’m still struggling to find the right words to describe what has happened. This attack was a heinous and most evil act brought upon fellow New Zealanders. It has left the country in shock and deeply felt grief. It has been one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent times globally and certainly the worst on our shores. Therefore, I would like to offer some words of support and assurance to our members and the whanau of the New Zealand Meteorological Society. Myself and all of the committee of the New Zealand Meteorological Society would like to send our most sincere condolences to the families and whanau affected by the atrocities on Friday. All of us from the committee stand with you in these difficult times, with our hearts, thoughts and our compassion. We are all one family and we will support each other.
Earth system science greatly relies on worldwide collaboration, exchange of data and ideas and the passion of people from very different backgrounds, religions and countries. Meteorological services are carried out 24/7 every day of the year and it is a great example of what can be accomplished when people from different backgrounds and religious beliefs join forces and work towards a common goal. It is only thanks to this borderless collaboration that scientists are able to forecast the weather and make prediction about the future climate many decades and sometimes centuries into the future. The New Zealand Meteorological Society is a prime example of this collaboration, with members and scientists from all walks of life and different religious beliefs. For me, the joint conference together with the New Zealand Hydrological Society last year in Christchurch was a shining example of how great we all can work together across all backgrounds and differences. I strongly believe that it is because of the great diversity of our people that we have made and are making continuous significant progress in better understanding and forecasting processes of the earth system.
I have lived in Germany, Austria and the United States and have travelled to many other countries around the world and New Zealand for me is one of the kindest, most compassionate and beautiful countries in the world. The inclusiveness, kindness and diversity in New Zealand is its greatest strength and this was immediately visible after the horrible attacks on Friday. I was deeply touched by the outpouring of support, love and compassion from people all over the country. The many vigils that were and will be held across New Zealand, the oceans of flowers in Christchurch and other cities and the support for the people in Christchurch and for the Muslim community. I myself went to the vigil held here in the capital on Sunday the 17th of March at Basin Reserve and I was deeply moved by the support and love shown by the 12.000 to 15.000 participants. It also fills me with hope to see our Prime Minster and all of New Zealand parliament stand together in these very difficult times and show genuine solidarity with the Muslim community in New Zealand. As our Prime Minster said so rightly: “They are us!”.
Things will change and must change after what we have learned after the attack. Not only laws, but also how we genuinely live diversity and inclusion on a daily basis and fight any form of racism and discrimination. It is up to every one of us to make sure this will never ever happen again and we should follow the lead of our political leaders and spread unity and strength to our communities. As the mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester said so rightly at the vigil on Sunday 17th of March: “We as a city, and as a society, must show today that we reject and condemn all forms of racism. We must stand up and never stand aside. We won’t tolerate jokes or casual references or any form of discrimination and although we know that not all hate leads to extreme violence, all extreme violence starts with hate and discrimination.”
Noho ora mai, kia kaha, aroha nui !
Look after yourself, stay strong, much love!
President of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand
22 March 2019