Students right there in hope as well as sorrow

One Friday in mid-February has become perhaps one of the most significant days of the year for students all over the country.

It was a day that took thousands of students from the elation of being part of an incredibly powerful and positive global movement to the realisation that they are also witnessing the world’s most horrible and hate-filled actions right here in New Zealand.

Marching and calling for action on climate change makes sense to the thousands who took part all over the country. Most of the marchers have 50, 60 or more years to live on this planet with the effects of the ways our climate is changing.

The students are rightly angry and disappointed that they will have to live with the climate legacy of their parents and grandparents. The lack of visible action and the lack of will of successive governments – all over the world – has tested the tolerance of those with most at stake.

So they marched. In their thousands. Many did so with the support of their schools and parents, and big ups to these adults who did not arrogantly dismiss the protest as students simply looking for time off school.

Then the world changed for us all

But just as the nationwide protest was being played out with dignity, enthusiasm and passion that Friday in February, our world changed.

The massacre of 50 worshippers in two Christchurch mosques catapulted all of us into the world spotlight. 50. Shot, here? Don’t believe it. Can’t believe it.

It happened. Hundreds of lives cut short or fundamentally and forever changed. And all of us left sad, shaken, shocked and incredibly puzzled and annoyed that one gun and gaming freak can cause all this in the name of racism.

Students again marching, sad this time

Students have been right up there in the week since the tragedy. In Christchurch in particular where a number of students were among the dead, high school students organised their own vigil and tributes.

Schools all over the country made their own tributes

The Prime Minister spoke to students at Cashmere High School

Students are entitled to wonder just how some weird ideology can lead someone to cause so much sorrow. They’re entitled to wonder too how this us-and-them division of humanity came about, what and who drove it, and who supports this hate.  

And to wonder what they can do about it.

How can students make it just a little better 

Let’s start at school. Maybe let’s get to know those classmates we may always have treated as different. They’re not. Maybe we can follow the example of the Christchurch students who think respect and love are the tools to help heal.

If the terrorist attack in Christchurch has done anything, it has made all Kiwis examine how they feel about faces that are different, particularly recent immigrants to our country. That’s an incredible positive, and one students again can and should lead.

Just like they led the march for climate action, a march for good that now seems so long ago already.

Read this letter from an Australian student to PM Jacinda Ardern

Struggling after the Christchurch tragedy?

  • Talk about your feelings with your mates, your family or someone you trust. Be open. What you are feeling is really, really normal.
  • Your teachers can help too. They’re likely struggling to get a handle on it too.
  • Stay with your school routines – they help

Reach out

- Youthline: 0800 376 633, (available 24/7)
- Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
The Lowdown – lots of advice




By Shaun, SchoolLeaver edit team