A young girl from Christchurch has penned an open letter to New Zealand, revealing the events that unfolded before her as victims were rushed into hospital following an attack at two mosques and her reflection on the aftermath.
The teenager, who wished to remain anonymous, told Newshub she was deeply moved by the events that played out before her as she awaited a scheduled surgery.
"I was talking to my doctor before I was going into surgery and nothing at all seemed wrong, but little did we know right outside New Zealand was turning upside down," she said.
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She was moved to another ward and was being told her surgery would be postponed when a nurse also disclosed they were awaiting "all these casualties" and said at least 30 were thought to have died.
The hospital was in lock down meaning she was unable to leave. As she looked out from a window, she saw who a man and woman who she believes were the parents of a victim become incredibly distraught and agitated at not being able to access the hospital. That’s when they shut the blinds.
Her letter to Aoteoroa reads below:
"Aotearoa. A beautiful clean green country. Anything traumatic rarely happens and gun shootings-are only heard of in America. On the 15th of March that completely changed.
New Zealand completely changed. I'm currently writing this at 10:45pm at a building directly opposite Christchurch Hospital.
Four gutless people going to a Mosque at 1.30pm and firing a semi-automatic gun.
At a place which offers Muslims a feeling of safety. But what safety do they have now? It shouldn't affect me this much. But it does.
It does because at 2:15pm I was due to go into surgery - a procedure I have been awaiting four months for.
Except for right before I go into get my anaesthetic - doctors say "sorry - you are going to be put on hold as we are awaiting multiple serious injuries and possible fatalities to come into surgery".
This seemed unbelievable to me. Five seconds ago everything seemed fine. Five minutes later I was wheeled onto a random ward.
Another five minutes past and the ward had been made into a makeshift ICU. A little two-year-old boy is rushed in. Five minutes later - he's dead. An innocent child, ripped from the world at a young age. He didn't know right from wrong and never will.
I cannot describe the feeling of sitting opposite a grieving Muslim family.
Being forced to stay in a room while the lights are turned out, the blinds are shut and endless armed police are guarding the hospital for five hours.
I only hear about lock downs on Hollywood movies. But this had now turned into real life. My friends are texting me, asking if I was okay. Physically, I am fine. There is not a single scar on me.
But what makes me not fine? Knowing I walk away while 49 people are dead and many more injured, none the less a two-year-old.
This might seem not like a big deal to you. But it should.
For a country that is supposed to value everyone equally to then go and commit this? What are we teaching the future generations? We have strict gun laws. But it's not enough. Why should it take a mass shooting for things to change?
I'm not trying to convince you to do something to change the world as quite frankly. We can't.
What I can challenge you to do though is to think about your future and your kids.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I respect that. But I think that we should make gun safety a priority in New Zealand and the laws- must become stricter.
As would you want to be in a room watching a two-year-old die from a gun wound and having to get the armed defender squad escort you out of a hospital?
A clean green, beautiful country?
Editor's note: The above letter has been edited since it was initially published.