Next Thursday April 25, New Zealanders will come together as we do every year for Anzac Day, to remember and thank those who have given their lives in service to our country.
Anzac Day is a special day for all Kiwis, both in New Zealand and living abroad. It serves as a reminder of our nation’s spirit during the darkest of days and gives all of us a chance to reflect on the sacrifices which were made in order to secure the freedoms that we enjoy today.
This year, Anzac Day will carry with it an additional weight upon our shoulders. In light of the terrorist attack committed on March 15 in Christchurch, we as New Zealanders will use it as an opportunity to demonstrate just how strong and united we remain.
As a country we are still grappling with the aftermath of this terrible tragedy and what it will mean for us as a country.
In light of the events of last month we must, more than ever, remember and have at the forefront of our minds the freedom that our Anzac’s fought and died for.
Our country is founded on the principles of freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.
These freedoms are precious and must continue to be fought for to ensure that we not only honour the Anzac spirit, but that we continue to build a free and democratic society.
In a free society like our own the responsibility to protect these freedoms falls on every one of us. Hate speech which incites violence is a crime and never has a place in our society, however we cannot protect freedoms by unjustifiably restricting them.
All freedoms come with responsibility and no freedom exists without its limitations but in our public discourse about hate speech I am concerned that many are seeking to regulate what views can be heard and which can’t. This amounts to a form of state sanctioned censorship which we must be very careful to avoid.
This Anzac Day will be an opportunity to reflect on these freedoms and the challenges we now face as a country and how we navigate these challenges.
I strongly encourage everyone to attend both the Dawn Service and Civic Service on Howick’s Stockade Hill this Anzac Day as we reflect and look forward as a country.
MP for Pakuranga