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Nau mai, haere mai, talofa lava, malo e lelei, bula vinaka, kia orana, warm greetings

This morning I attended the National Remembrance Service at Hagley Park alongside two of our college leaders, William Topham and Caius Fa’atili. It was a very emotional experience listening to a number of speakers, listening to the “reading of names” and, of course, the musical performances. The reaction of 10s of 1000s of Cantabrians who stood in ovation and applauded overwhelmingly for Jacinda Ardern was an acknowledgement of her outstanding leadership demonstrating the importance of humanity, love and compassion. I was most taken listening to one of the survivors from the Al Noor Mosque, Farid Ahmed, who was badly wounded and lost his wife during the terrorist attack. Listening to him speak of forgiveness, unity and love was an incredibly powerful example of what we should all be striving for in our own faith journey. I have include a part of his speech as it is worth reading and contemplating over the weekend.

“We believe that people [who] die in [a] good cause, the people who were killed in their worship, are in paradise.

“Today, in front of all of us, I would like to offer my sincere prayers for the people who were killed and also the people who survived.

“I would like to honour you for your presence today … I want to thank NZers for coming together; for showing the world that NZ is a peaceful country.

“People ask me: ‘why do you forgive someone who has killed your beloved wife?’ The answer is … I have a faith; I believe in Allah, and Allah says that if we forgive one another, he loves me, he loves us.

“Those who control their anger and pardon their fellow human – Allah loves [them].

“I don’t want to have a heart that is boiling like a volcano … it doesn’t have peace; it burns itself within, and it burns the surroundings.

“I want a heart that will be full of love and care, and will have mercy.

“I have chosen peace, I have chosen love, and I have forgiven”

“We all are Adam’s children, Eve’s children, we are one single family.

“I do not hate [the accused] – I cannot hate him, I cannot hate anyone.

“We all want peace … we say we want peace, but we have to start somewhere. We have to clean our own hearts first … if our hearts are full of love, then peace will start from here.

“Regardless of faith, culture and religion, I would like to begin with this city [in which] I live – Christchurch, the garden city. In the garden, we see different types of flowers. They are different, but together they make a beautiful garden. Ahmen.”

On Monday we were able to witness a fantastic performance from our Polyfest group. It was fantastic to have our brothers and sisters from OLV to watch a fantastic, well choreographed performance. Congratulations to all involved.

We have had students and staff in various parts of the country this week, participating in national tournaments. Next week we will have a full round up of results. To date (some events are still in action) Our Junior Futsal finished second narrowly losing the St Patricks in penalty shoot out. Senior Futsal are also in the final of there national tournament. I am sure this is a first to have both Junior and Senior teams make the final of a National Futsal tournament.

Our Junior Basketball team have also made the final of the 3×3 Elite National Tournament, this will be played later tonight. Our Softball team finished 3rd in their National Tournament Great achievement. Two crews made A finals at Maadi Cup, our U18 Quad and U18 Double, what a great achievement to be ranked in the top 10 in the country. 

The Senior Volleyball team won the Christchurch satellite tournament defeating Christs College in the final.

To top off a great week of sport our Senior Rugby League team made the final of the Canterbury 9’s tournament and our Juniors won their tournament. A fantastic week of sport for St Thomas!

I would like to thank the work of our staff in ensuring our students have had an opportunity in the sporting sphere at the highest level, not only for being away from their families but for sharing their skills and talents to achieve the amazing results I have listed above.

To finish, I have added the lyrics from Yusuf Islam / Cat Steven’s song, Peace Train, which he played today, out of darkness and sadness goodness has risen. I am blessed each day here at St Thomas to see this hope in our young men. As a society, we have witnessed it in all the acts of humanity we have seen in reaction to the terrible events of March 15th. Have a read of the lyrics and maybe dig out this wonderful track over the weekend and reflect on all the hope and humanity we have to look forward to as we begin to make sense of events of two weeks ago.

Kia Kaha

Now, I’ve been happy lately
Thinkin’ about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun.

Oh, I’ve been smilin’ lately
Dreamin’ about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Some day it’s going to come

‘Cause out on the edge of darkness
There rides a peace train.
Oh, peace train take this country.
Come take me home again.

Now, I’ve been smiling lately
Thinkin’ about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun.

Oh, peace train soundin’ louder.
Glide on the peace train.
Ooh, ah, ee, ah, ooh, ah.
Come on, now peace train.

Yes, peace train holy roller.
Everyone jump on the peace train.
Ooh, ah, ee, ah, ooh, ah.
Come on, now peace train.

Get your bags together.
Go bring your good friends too
Because it’s gettin’ nearer
It soon will be with you.

Now, come and join the livin’.
It’s not so far from you
And it’s gettin’ nearer
Soon it will all be true.