Expats in New Zealand react to the terrorist attack

Published:  29 Mar at 6 PM
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Expats in New Zealand are grieving for their society after the tragic terrorist attack.

For decades, New Zealand has been seen as a safe haven away from an increasingly troubled world, but the March 15 terrorist attack shattered the dreams of expatriates and citizens alike. The general opinion was that, due to its distance from the rest of the inhabited parts of the planet, the cold, hard reality of 21st century life would be kept at bay. Now, New Zealanders and expats alike can hardly believe the atrocity actually happened.

Inhabitants of these genteel islands whether expats or Kiwis had no problems walking alone late at night, leaving their belongings on a restaurant table whilst working on another table, drawing money from an ATM and all the other activities seen as risky elsewhere on the planet. It’s all different now and, in spite of the message of hope and courage given by the country’s Prime Minister, grief hangs over the country’s stunning beauty like a pall, even although it won’t be allowed to divide the population

As an unexpected result of the tragedy, there’s been a sudden surge in visa applications from countries all over the world, with many originating in Muslim-majority states such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and Pakistan and merging with others from the UK, USA and South Africa. One British expat living in Nelson told the media he’d never imagined his adopted homeland would be a target for a terror attack. He now feels the experience has dragged the country to an unfamiliar place, noting what he refers to as formerly acceptable ‘casual bigotry’ as a danger sign which was ignored.

One American who emigrated with her family after Trump was elected for fear of the USA’s school shootings now lives in Christchurch and still feels safe as well as appreciating ‘wonderful, multicultural’ New Zealand. The speed with which the government amended its gun laws acted as a reassurance, although not all expatriates are as comfortable with certain aspects of New Zealand life. Another British expat, now a New Zealand citizen, is concerned about the country’s social problems, saying the country isn’t the utopia it’s made out to be.
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