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Speech to victims of the Christchurch Mosque Attacks

Welcome. Thank you for joining me today.

I would also like to welcome our support workers.

It has been 16 weeks since the mosque attacks.

I recognise the fifty-one who are not with us.

Please accept my very sincere condolences

We are here today to explain how we will distribute the last payment from the $13.2 million dollars gifted to you by the people of NZ and around the world.

The team and I have asked ourselves many questions:

How do we fairly and transparently distribute the money which is a gift – and not compensation or entitlement?

How can we be sure that we have done this in the right way?

Who should get the money?

How can we show that we understand your views and we have heard your voice?

I will take you through how we have answered those questions.

The first question we asked ourselves was…

How do we fairly and transparently distribute money which is a gift which is not compensation or an entitlement?

The people who gave donations to us on your behalf knew they couldn’t compensate for what you have lost or what you are going through.

In their quotes on our Givealittle page they were clear they were gifting money as a gesture of love and support – a gesture of unity and solidarity.

When they were giving in those early days, they didn’t know your stories and your pain. They didn’t know you.

But they recognised you as people in their neighbourhoods, in their shopping centres and in their local schools.

They felt a bond with you.

Their overwhelming generosity was a surprise to us all.

It has been our privilege and our responsibility to use these funds to help you when you needed it most.

The second question we asked ourselves was…

How can we be sure that we have done this in the right way?

I have realised that there is no organisation which could help us answer this question.

I will explain why that is in a moment.

Over the last month I invited you to meet with me so I could hear your views.

You invited me to your homes, your businesses and your hospital wards.

I spoke to you on the phone in India, Pakistan, Australia and in regions across NZ.

I knew before I started these conversations that there would be many different views about how we should distribute these funds.

I knew that whatever we did we could not make everyone happy.

When others asked why I was talking to you when it was clear that there would be multiple views, I said it is because it is the right thing to do.

The next question we asked ourselves was…

Who should get this money?

New Zealand is a country where people try to live by the values of fairness and transparency.

We try to ensure everyone who lives here has an equal opportunity.

We know we can always do better but as a nation we don’t give up and we continue to keep trying to do the right thing.

I have spoken to medical experts, professors at universities, lawyers, accountants and people who have led on the support post Grenfell Towers and other unprecedented events.

I wanted to know if there was a financial framework with:

- The most ethical way to divide the money
- A way to know who should receive help
- A system where the injuries of victims could be prioritised based on their needs
- A clear approach for supporting mental trauma

What I found out didn’t give us solutions – it raised more questions.

There are no rules or existing systems that I could use.

The medical profession cannot give me a guide which tells me who needs more help than others.

They can’t tell me who will continue to battle against the effects of the attacks and who be able to be back at work next week, next month, next year or never.

There is no system that would tell me to give one person more money than another because they deserve it more. No system that could decide how those bereaved could be ranked by their loss.

I went back to these experts. I asked if we could create a way to do this together.

They told me it would be a world first and take many months and possibly years with many different views.

Over the last 16 weeks many victims, donors and the media have made it clear that we must not hold onto this money and we must not delay in getting these funds into your hands.

Today’s decision on the last payment is to give you some certainty.

This means you can focus on your medium to long term needs.

So, who should get this money?

This is when I go back to the gift and the intent of those who gave it.

We must not allow this gift to divide us. We cannot treat this gift as an entitlement or as compensation.

It was given with unity and solidarity.

Two thirds of the gift - more than $7 million - has now been given to you for emergency needs.

We know it doesn’t solve your futures issues.

However, we were able to make the first payment to you 2 days after the attacks. This is a world first.

It has been a challenge to find you.

As you were focussed on your injured, your grieving and your families, more than 1000 people have phoned us asking for help since the attacks.

Most of these people didn’t want or need money.

We needed to know the gift was being given to people who needed it most.

In the early days we struggled to contact all of you.

The Police list has helped us to find you and to ensure that 100% of the funds would go to the victims of the mosque attacks.

We have heard your voice.

As we approach the last phase of payments, we knew there would be vastly different views.

When we pulled everyone’s views together there were fourteen different suggestions for how we should split this gift.

There were however three things the group agreed on:

- They favoured a ratio-based approach
- That the bereaved and the severely injured must be looked after
- That those with mental trauma must be recognised.

That now brings us to our decision.

I must acknowledge the generosity of the 100,000 people who made this possible.

Normally the only financial assistance we could give would be to the bereaved next of kin. That would be a $5,000 grant from the government’s victim’s assistance scheme.

I can confirm that we have raised more than $13.2 million dollars.

The Givealittle page reached a total of $10.9 million.

It was the flexibility and quick access to these funds that enabled us to help victims two days after the mosque attacks.

I will now ask my team to hand you out a paper. I can then take you through how we will be distributing the remaining funds.

The Police list is now split into four categories:

- The bereaved
- Those who were shot
- Those who were injured but not shot
- Those who were present on the day of the attacks at the two mosques

This list has changed many times and that was expected as victims come forward and interviews took place.

It is a complex and detailed process and we want to acknowledge the Police for their support.

Without this list we could not be sure if we were focussing the donations on the victims present at the time of the attacks.

We have now split the last payment across the four categories

We have totalled all the lump sum payments made to date and we have applied a ratio across the four categories:

• 5x for the bereaved
• 3 x for those shot
• 2 x for those who were injured but not shot
• 1 x for those present at the attacks

This means that the last payment will be as follows:

• Bereaved will receive $50,0000
• Those shot will receive $26,000
• Those injured but not shot will receive $9,000
• Those present will receive $5000

In addition, there are two individual donors who have committed $421,000 to the severely injured.

This will be paid to the Christchurch Foundation who are focussing on medium to long terms needs.

There is then a $860,000 contingency.

This will ensure that there are funds to support changes on the police list as many people still face serious operations and possible changes to their status as interviews with Police progress.

It will also ensure that when loved ones are ready to leave, we can help them return home with travel assistance grants.

Any of this contingency we have not needed by the first anniversary of the attacks will be transferred to Christchurch Foundation as well.

Thank you for your honesty and support. I know our decision cannot satisfy everyone, but I hope in explaining our approach you can understand it.

We have been committed to 100% of these funds being received by the victims. We are confident we have achieved this.

The team and I are now located around the room to answer your individual questions and clarify any detail on the sheet we have given you.

© Scoop Media

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