Series of hui on Christchurch mosque attack Royal Commission report to begin

7:41 pm on 29 January 2021

A Muslim man whose son was murdered in the Christchurch mosque shootings is sceptical about government hui beginning this weekend.

The final report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019.

The final report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019. Photo: RNZ / Sam Rillstone

A nationwide series of meetings about the Royal Commmission of Inquiry report into the attacks starts from this weekend .

The first three of the 28 hui are in Wellington on Sunday. One for all muslims, one for muslims and one for muslim youth.

Fifteen others will be for Muslims and 10 hui for pan-ethnic or pan-faith groups; 19 in the North Island and nine in the South Island, from now until 21 February. Details can be found here.

The aim is to address questions about the report, the government's response, and how the community can engage with that.

However, there is scepticism, focused around a feeling the hui are being rushed, are top-down and may end up being superficial.

Concerns raised

Rashid Omar, who lost his son Tariq at Al Noor Mosque, believed it was just a box-ticking exercise.

"I think the government's already decided what they want to do.

"And it's just a matter of going through the motion, of telling us what they want to do," Omar said, echoing reservations heard by RNZ from other sources.

Omar attended a hui for victims, held in December in Christchurch soon after the 800-page Commission report came out.

Other feedback was that the hui was useful.

In some cases, people have had only a few days' notice to respond to invitations to the hui issued by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The government issued a press release about the hui today, hours after RNZ made inquiries.

There was also concern among those who might go along that the hui had not been designed with Muslim community input; also, that the meetings will put another load on volunteer community leaders, and will follow a pattern prior to the 15 March attacks, when Muslims made multiple efforts to get civil servants to take far-right threats seriously, but got nowhere, as has been well documented.

How the hui will work

Andrew Little, the lead coordination minister for the government's response, and Priyanca Radhakrishnan, minister for diversity, inclusion and ethnic communities, will open each hui.

After that "there will be a town-hall style discussion where people can share their thoughts and views directly with Ministers and ask questions", the DPMC told RNZ in a statement.

It is unclear how widely invitations have been issued, or what sort of numbers might turn up.

"Communities' active engagement will help strengthen New Zealand's social cohesion and counter-terrorism efforts, and foster a safer society for everyone," Little said in a press release.

The government has promised to implement all 44 recommendations of the Royal Commission which include encouraging agencies to consult with people in more collaborative ways, and to require agencies to be clear about how much influence community engagement has on decision making.

"We're hoping for strong interest in these hui as an opportunity for communities to provide feedback and have their perspectives considered," the DPMC said.

The department is in charge of the security and intelligence network, which was compromised by systemic failings in the years before the mosque attacks, according to the Royal Commission report.

Omar said questions were raised about those failings at the Christchurch hui but answers were not forthcoming, and he doubts they ever will be.

"It's just like a whitewash of the police and intelligence agencies."

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