2.1 Affected whānau, survivors and witnesses
Affected whānau, survivors and witnesses have been at the heart of our inquiry. We were very aware that the Royal Commission was established because of the tragedy of 15 March 2019. This tragedy caused immense grief, hurt and loss, which will be felt by affected whānau, survivors and witnesses indefinitely. We had a deep sense of responsibility to provide them with answers to their questions, and reassurance where we could.
We met with wives, husbands, parents, children, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins of the shuhada or those who were attending the masjidain and survived the terrorist attack, some of whom were injured (physically and/or mentally) and others who witnessed aspects of the terrorist attack.
We wanted people to have an opportunity to share their stories, and their evidence, in their own words. We wanted to hear their thoughts on anything that happened in the lead up to the terrorist attack, or ideas they had to help prevent such an attack from happening again. When needed, we asked questions to prompt discussion.
We acknowledge the openness and willingness of affected whānau, survivors and witnesses to talk to us. These conversations have strengthened the inquiry by ensuring we kept people at the heart of our work, and in this way have made this a better report.
More detailed insights from our meetings and the reports we received are summarised in our companion publication What we heard from affected whānau, survivors and witnesses.
It was also important to us that we heard from many New Zealanders who had valuable views and perspectives to offer on the matters we were inquiring into. We heard from these groups:
- Our Muslim Community Reference Group, who provided us with knowledge and insights. They enabled us to better understand, from the members’ own experiences, how Public sector agencies interact and engage with New Zealand’s Muslim communities. We acknowledge their service, sacrifice, perseverance and the impact they made in helping us think about our role and responsibilities. The Muslim Community Reference Group’s frank advice and wise counsel, and the relationships built, are gratefully acknowledged and respected.
- Community and interest groups, including New Zealand’s Muslim communities and communities of affiliation or identity, interest, faith, place or national origin who provided us with a deeper understanding of common issues, concerns and themes.
- Members of the New Zealand public, who engaged with our submissions process. We received a total of 1,168 submissions – 1,123 from individuals (including researchers and academics) and 45 from organisations.
The submissions are summarised in our companion publication Summary of submissions.
Our approach gave people and communities the freedom to talk about a wide range of topics, both within and outside the scope of our Terms of Reference. Although our Terms of Reference prevented us from making findings or recommendations on issues that were out of scope, we have recorded these issues and discuss them at the end of this Part.