March 15, 2019 will be etched in the minds and hearts of every New Zealander. A country that is an enclave of diversity woke up to the sound of bullets in a mosque at Christchurch where a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people and wounded another 50 – men, women and children – at two mosques in what was termed as the darkest day in New Zealand.
The incident led to the third Test between the hosts and the touring Bangladesh side called off after the visitors had a narrow escape when the team bus was on its way to the Christchurch mosque and arrived the location minutes before the carnage began. (READ: Fate played a huge role that day for Bangladesh players)
“It was just a setback to the country. Everybody was in total shock,” the Auckland-born Black Caps opener Martin Guptill tells CricketCountry.
Since the incident, an outpouring of grief and empathy for New Zealand’s Muslim population has seen thousands of flowers and contributions piled outside mosques across the country. There was one such occasion when even the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore a hijab during a prayer service to show solidarity with the Muslim community.
“The support that New Zealand showed to our Muslim community and the way that we rallied around them was amazing. It just showed what sort of a country that we are. When things are down, we rally behind each other and hold each other through hard times,” says Guptill, current part of Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2019.
Christchurch is still coming to terms with the devastating day, but Guptill is confident that unity, which has always been New Zealand’s strength, will bring the country out of darkness. (READ: People in New Zealand still coming to terms with attack: Trent Boult)
“Fingers crossed that things keep getting better at home, it was a dark day you know, but then there is always light at the end and New Zealand really rallied round and showed that the support will always be there. That’s what a country we are,” he says.