The Christchurch tragedy

Dear E tū members,

We have returned to work this week under the sorrowful shadow of a great and unjust tragedy.

On behalf of all E tū members I express my respect and support to all of our many Muslim and migrant members and your families. We are proud of what you bring to our union and our country.

Our Christchurch members and your families feel, understandably, that you have been kicked in the guts again.

Our Christchurch union staff and a number of elected delegates supported each other in lockdown at our Cashel St office into Friday evening while the situation unfolded and stabilised. We have staff and members who have been directly affected by this terrorist atrocity.

I would like to thank our E tū members at the hospitals that have been working around the clock to make sure the victims get the best care possible. This includes security, orderlies, cleaners, food service workers and trade staff.

I believe New Zealanders have a keen collective sense of respect, tolerance, dignity and a fair-go for all and this has really shone through in our nations response over recent days.  I have received a huge number of messages of support from across the global union movement, expressing the solidarity of working people across the world.

We mourn with our fellow Kiwis who have lost their loved ones.  Our union can play a key role in assisting members over the next period.  We have already started assisting with public rallies during the weekend and that will continue.

I hope that you may find the information and advice below helpful.

Solidarity Christchurch.

Bill Newson
National Secretary

Support for victims and their familes

The ACC no-fault scheme covers everyone in New Zealand if you’re injured in an accident. The scheme covers children, beneficiaries, students, if you’re working, unemployed or retired. It also includes visitors to New Zealand if they’re injured while they’re here.

Whether you’ve been injured in the Christchurch attacks or have lost a loved one, ACC are here to help. They’ll work with you and your family to make sure you get the help you need. 

Click here to read more information, including links to downloadable factsheets in multiple languages about getting help.

Self-care is important

Our whole community is is mourning together and many of us will be finding this atrocity very difficult to process. Anyone who needs help should get in touch with mental health service providers.

Lifeline: call 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Your workplace may offer Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services or similar. Please make use of these services if needed.

Click here for a list of regional mental health crisis services (for emergencies).

Addressing Islamophobia and intolerance

If you witness Islamophobia, or in fact any hateful actions, here are some steps you can take:

  • Ask the person being harassed if they’re okay or need help before stepping into the situation (unless it’s an emergency, in which case, call the police).
  • Sit or stand beside the person being harassed and talk to them so they know they’re not alone and the attacker is more likely to stand down.
  • Go to the closest authorities or draw attention from the people around you to alert them to the danger if you notice the situation escalating.
  • Take out your phone as it’s not only good to take note of the time and place or videotape evidence of the altercation but it can also persuade attackers to stand down.

To challenge these systemic problems we must start small, by holding people who display Islamophobia and racism accountable for their behaviour. Allies are well placed to do this work, and uphold those affected by it. Together, we can change the culture.

We can counter Islamophobia and other bigotry in our everyday lives

Give nothing to racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, or any forms of bigotry. We can do this every single day.

  • Don’t allow your friends, family and colleagues to make remarks that are ‘casual discrimination’, such as nasty comments about other people’s cultures.
  • Don’t make jokes at the expense of others. If you hear people making these sorts of jokes, tell them why they shouldn’t.
  • Remember that acts of terror like the one we witnessed on Friday 15 March are the extreme version of attitudes that start with our community not being inclusive. See the pyramid graphic below and make sure your actions will not be the foundation for terrible acts.

Our message to employers

The message below has been sent to the employers of E tū members:

Like us you may be struggling with the enormity of this tragedy and staff grief.

Members have asked us for leadership in this difficult time so we will advise them of our expectations just as we did during the earthquakes.

E tū’s views on how we keep staff safe and maintain a healthy workplace response to our shared grief is:

Kindness, tolerance and compassion are the principles determining our response.


  • Acknowledge the tragedy we have all experienced.
  • Offer opportunities to talk about their experiences & feelings; helplessness, bewilderment, anger, sadness.
  • Listening to the suffering that staff feel.
  • List realistic support networks (EAP, Community & Faith groups) and assist in making contact.
  • Support staff to attend in worktime funerals, memorials, events to remember those we have lost.
  • Accept staff may need paid time off to seek support or support their whanau through this tragedy.
  • Encourage workplace activities showing aroha and solidarity.

We were moved to hear the Head Boy of Cashmere High Okirano Tilaia quote Martin Luther King Jr and we share this with you:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”