Fresh Air from Aotearoa – Country of Long White Cloud

Engineer Najmul A Sheikh

30 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Fresh Air from 
Aotearoa – Country of 
Long White Cloud

All men’s are created equal; however some are more equal than others! On 15th March morning, after knowing something terrible is unfolding in New Zealand; I was glued to BBC and other social media to find out what happened to our beloved cricket team, the Tigers!

I knew, Tigers have reached Christchurch day or two before this infamous Mosque massacre by a terrorist. I have lived in New Zealand and studied at the University of Waikato at Hamilton. We met Bangladesh cricket team at Hamilton during those days, and from my experience I know usually Tiger players attend Jumma prayer, whenever possible! While watching live TV, at one stage they were showing Tamim, Miraz, Mushfique and Taijul walking fast towards their team bus without any protection. What a sigh of relief! Our beloved Tigers were saved by divine intervention. Unfortunately, they were not given any kind of security, not even un-armed! They were few minutes late due to team press conference, which was also delayed by rain! If they were on time for prayers at Al-Noor mosque, most likely they would have been slaughtered. I can’t remotely imagine, how 170 million fans would cope with such a tragic event.

I lived and studied in New Zealand few decades back. I know how nice and safe New Zealand is. Many of my friends ask me, ‘why this terrorist went to New Zealand instead of committing this massacre in Australia?’ I have replied, in New Zealand, cops don’t even carry guns, in case of need, they call armed police. Terrorist knew all about this loopholes very well, that’s why after finishing rampage at Al-Noor, he got enough time to go to Lynwood Mosque and started killing all over again! In Australia, he had to confront with armed police within few minutes.

However, for a visiting national team they should have provided full time armed security. Soon after we came to know that, 50 innocent Muslims got slaughtered while praying; they include five New Zealanders of Bangladesh origin, and few young children.

Once dust settled, true nature of New Zealand, its people and her leadership has started to emerge! New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern showed her true character. According to Suzanne Moore of The Guardian, “Then there is this 38-year-old woman: the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. We have watched as she shows the world what real leadership is. We have seen the qualities that define leadership in such a way that it is clear she is a lioness”. She has communicated quickly and immediately, giving New Zealanders as much information as she could. She has given them a language in which to talk about the unspeakable, to vocalise the shock and sadness. “They are us,” she said simply of the dead and wounded.”

In last few decades, the world has gone backward, especially some (western) leaders has been using hate, fear of immigrant, and Islamophobia to win election successfully! Privately owned media has been fanning this hate and Islamophobia. Except few newspapers in the western world, all jumped into the band wagon. Far-right parties in Europe and Latin-America getting more support and people like Donald Trump became president of America. Mr Trump started to show total disrespect to the world, peace, and UN! After moving US embassy to Jerusalem, leaving treaty with Iran, he just tweeted ‘occupied Golan Heights’ as part of Israel! It was beyond imagination in the 70’s and 80’s!

All of a sudden, in the midst of triumph of ‘populism over policy, hate over love’, out of New Zealand’s darkest days, the whole world found something very encouraging and also refreshing! It’s just like breath of fresh air from ‘Aotearoa; which means ‘country of long white cloud’ – New Zealand’s Maori name. No wonder, glowing New York Times editorial says ‘America deserves a leader as good as Jacinda Ardern!’


The writer is an MBA from the University of Waikato; now an Adjunct Faculty, BRAC Business School