New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned to Christchurch on Wednesday as the community began burials for some of the 50 people slain in a mass shooting at two mosques last week. A father and son who had fled to New Zealand from Syria as refugees, Khaled and Hamza Mustafa, were the first of the victims to be buried.
“I cannot tell you how gutting it is to know that a family came here for safety and for refuge, and they should have been safe here,” said Ardern on Wednesday.
The prime minister also took the time to visit students at Cashmere High School, who were mourning two fellow students killed in the massacre. During the ceremony, 400 students performed a haka — a traditional indigenous dance — that has become a nationwide symbol of solidarity since the attack.
Students, sports teams, biker gangs, and even a flight crew from Air New Zealand have been performing the ritual as a tribute to the victims and an emotional outpouring of national grief. Outside of the Al Noor mosque, community members gathered with Muslim worshipers on Wednesday evening to perform the haka before joining hands to create a human wall of protection around them as they prayed.
The ritual performances are the latest symbol of unity in this small island country, where a poignant display of national healing has unfolded in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy.
Watch video of some of the haka performances taking place across New Zealand.
Read the full story at The Guardian.