As we come to terms with the devastating terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealanders have been coming together in grief and sadness. The vigils, tributes and fundraising have shown the strength, compassion and unity of New Zealanders. We will not forget the people who died that day.
United for Christchurch Benefit Concert – Our Place Tauranga
Since the tragedy I have spent time with the Islamic community. I have been welcomed into Mosques across the country by the Islamic community, along with all New Zealanders.
I am humbled by their compassion, love and forgiveness which they have chosen over fear, hate and anger.
We can all learn from this.
Security risk has changed
National has been clear that we support changes to our firearms regime and we will work constructively with the Government. We agree that the public does not need access to military style semi-automatic weapons. National supports them being banned along with assault rifles.
I have also called for and support a Royal Commission of Inquiry into our Security and Intelligence Agencies. A Royal Commission is the only suitable level of inquiry to ensure that the attacks in Christchurch are investigated thoroughly and independently. We need to understand whether they could have been prevented. We must fight extremism in all forms.
Bike ride for peace
I would also like to acknowledge a group of international bike riders who visited Tauranga recently. Their bike ride started in Norway in February and also passes through the UK, France, India, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. They are led by blind cyclist Tore Naerland in the hope of raising awareness for key issues of peace, diplomacy, nuclear-risk-reduction and climate protection.
Welcome to Tauranga
The cyclists weren’t the only special visitors we welcomed to Tauranga this month. Close to 800 international students are staying in Tauranga and will be attending local schools, language schools, private training establishments and public tertiary institutions. A welcome event was held at Holy Trinity Church celebrating the diversity they bring, and the value they add to our community.
Tauranga Intermediate performing at the International Student Welcome Event
Educating Young Minds
My son Harry turned five recently and will start school after Easter. It amazes me that I now have two children attending primary school. Time is flying by.
One of the organisations that I visited last week reminded me of how important early childhood education is. Fern Garden Preschool in Otumoetai has been winning awards for many years. They recently won the Sustainable Business Practices Award at the Tauranga Business Awards. They are very focused on educating children to look after the environment. They have a worm farm, composting area, vegie garden and are into recycling. It is great to see them recognised for their efforts.
Kim Bone - Curriculum Manager and Carol Bull - Centre Manager – Fern Garden Preschool
I wanted to update you on the Leaders Luncheon that I mentioned in last month’s Bridges Brief.
The major talking point was the critical need for infrastructure in the Tauranga region, including the Tauranga Northern Link. We will continue to apply pressure regarding these issues as they must be addressed and solved by both local councils and the Government.
Finally as we lead up to Easter I would like to wish you and your families an enjoyable and safe Easter break.