Cashmere High pupil asks Jacinda Ardern touching question – ‘How am I? Very sad’

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The first question pupils from a Christchurch high school that lost two students in Friday's terror attack asked of the Prime Minister was directed at her wellbeing.

Jacinda Ardern was visiting Cashmere High School where students asked about security, social media, mental health, the charges of the alleged perpetrator, the implications of New Zealand’s security level on international travel and gun laws, following the mosque attacks that saw 50 people die. 

In answer to her first question - "how are you" - the Prime Minister said: "How am I? Thank you for asking. I'm very sad."

Ms Ardern was welcomed onto the school with a haka pōhiri by students.

Principal Mark Wilson previously told 1 NEWS the school had lost two students, and a past pupil and father were also listed as missing.

Other members of the school community had been wounded. 

"It is OK to grieve," Ms Ardern told the school. "It is OK to ask for help even if you weren't directly affected."

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She made two requests of the students.

"Feeling safe means feeling safe from violence… but also means making a place where there is no environment for violence to flourish. Where we don’t let racism exist. Because racism breeds extremism.

"I alone cannot get rid of those things by myself. I need help from every single one of us. If we want to feel like we’re doing something to make a difference, show those outpouring of love, gather together, send that message, look after one another.

"But also let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance for racism. Ever. That is something we can all do."


Ms Ardern also asked the students to honour those who died on Friday. 

"Yes, there will be interest in the terrorist who did this. Don’t say his name. Don't dwell on who he is."

"You know some of the young people who lost their lives on Friday, it’s their names and their stories we need to keep telling. 

She also commended the students for using social media "for good". The Prime Minister has been critical of social media companies in the wake of the attacks, yesterday saying there needed to be more responsibility from platforms enabling the spread of "ideas and language of division and hate".

The students sent a message "expecting a few hundred students" to show up at Hagley Park on Saturday for a vigil for the victims. 

"But you had thousands," Ms Ardern said. "Never underestimate the power of just sending a message, looking out for someone, performing a haka. There is power in that. You are sending a message of solidarity and of support.

"I know that we as New Zealanders, we immediately want to do something to support those who have been affected, to feel like we’re making a difference, to contribute.

"That is why you see hundreds and hundreds of messages and flowers outside mosques. It's why you see your school being offered cakes and morning tea and funds, to support the students being affected, because that is what we do. That is who we are. When we see need we try and meet it."

Ms Ardern also spoke to the students about the "holes" in New Zealand's gun laws, and the intentions the Government had to fix them. 

She confirmed to students a national memorial would take place, but said more details would be coming.