Thursday, 21 March 2019

A sombre visit to the memorial wall of flowers

This morning I accompanied a group of our tamariki, and staff, as we visited the 'memorial wall' of flowers at the front of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens this morning

It was an emotional time for us all. The students took a range of flowers, cards, and tributes, which they laid amongst the thousands upon thousands of other tributes. They also took their aroha, their love. The compassion and dignity that our students showed were frankly inspirational. I was proud to stand amongst them. They (we) all stared, mostly watery eyed, at the tributes, at the words, and it was clear to see the simple sorrow with which everyone was overwhelmed. Small groups of student spontaneously broke into waiata, quiet, understated, and from the heart. The nurtured and comforted each other, younger and older students. I can't recall seeing such leadership amongst and by students. Several times I took my phone out to take photographs, and each time I put it away. It was not right to interrupt, to capture, that raw emotion in that way. It deserved the sanctity and peace of the moment.

Young people like these can change the world. Young people like these WIILL change the world. They will (I hope) be uncompromising in their demands for a better world, a world that is more caring, more compassionate, more filled with love and understanding. One Muslim woman walked amongst them, moved by the emotion to offer hugs to students, thanking them for caring. I overheard her tell one of our young people that their actions there, this morning, were important, that they made a difference. It was hard to walk away from that place, silent as it was despite being in the centre of the city.

These experiences show the true values that our children hold, the values of decent people. Those values were there for the whole world to see.

None of us would ever wish for such things to be the stuff of education, but the lessons and the affirmation that I saw this morning left me in tears. As I said earlier, I was proud to stand amongst our amazing rangatahi. As a community we should all be proud to know that we are nurturing such love, compassion, and caring.

Kia tau te mauri


  1. It is heartwarming and awe inspiring to witness the outpourings of grief and love that prove that Aotearoa is in good hands now and in the future. A caring society is made up of caring communities and the Hornby High School community exemplifies the values and spirit of the country and society that I wish to be part of. Thank you for sharing.