Ngāi Tahu to tautoko Muslim families in need

By Raniera Harrison

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Chief Operating Officer Julian Wilcox says Ngāi Tahu will support whānau in the Muslim community as they struggle to cope with the impact of the devastating events which unfolded last Friday.

"We acknowledge they're a different people from a different culture, with different values but we must work together to resolve this problem. To resolve this problem for the families who're heavily affected by what has happened," says Wilcox.

He told Te Ao that working together with the Muslim people will bring love and unity and help develop a deeper understanding of how the iwi can better support them through this difficult time.

"One embodiment of that relationship was seen in the prayers to remove the tapu this morning. Secondly, working with families so they can care for their relatives and the victims.

"They haven't said when the bodies will be returned to them, but that's when the leaders of Ngāi Tahu, Dr Te Maire Tau and other leaders of the wider community will work with the Muslim people to quickly and safely return the bodies to them.

"Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has discussed the possibility of opening their marae to the families affected by the tragedy.  All our local marae are currently closed at the advice of the New Zealand Police for security reasons.  Tuahiwi, Rāpaki and Ngā Hau e Whā marae will be available for tangihanga, manaaki or accommodation will be made available.

"There'll be a time when the doors will be open to the Muslim families if they wish, and to support people who're arriving here.  But time will tell and the needs of the Muslim people will dictate. If they don't wish to, our job will be done."