Patrick Gower: Why I made a documentary on hate and March 15

OPINION: "It is fine to love, it is fine to hate - this is beyond hate."

These are the words of Wasseim Alsati, a victim of the March 15 terror attack who took part in my upcoming documentary Patrick Gower: On Hate.

In the documentary, which is coming soon but yet to be given a release date, I investigate the extreme hate that caused the attack - a new global, online form of white supremacy.

I chose to take on hate because I believe it is a documentary that needs to be made. 

In my view, March 15 is one of the most evil actions to ever take place in the world, let alone in Aotearoa New Zealand and we have to understand it more than we do.

Having reported extensively on the attack and its aftermath, I still constantly find myself saying what happened - where did this hate come from? And the follow-up question: how can we stop it from happening again? 

The first priority for me and the team when we started producing this last year was the victims.

For that reason:

  • This is a victim-led documentary
  • It does not show the terrorist or use his name
  • It does not platform any extreme views.

We have been able to combine the results of the official investigations with the views of the victims in what I believe is an in-depth and probing piece of journalism.

Through my coverage over the past two years I have been able to build up trust with many victims.       

Christchurch terror attack victim Wasseim Alsati talks to Patrick Gower in the documentary 'On Hate.'
Christchurch terror attack victim Wasseim Alsati talks to Patrick Gower in the documentary 'On Hate.' Photo credit: Newshub

The seven victims who agreed to do the documentary all believe  others can learn from their stories.

I would describe the interviews as deep, reflective, very confronting and extremely powerful. 

Some of the victim’s recollections are traumatic and the documentary has had to walk a very careful line to respect them but make sure the true horror is not erased.

All victims interviewed have had the opportunity to see the way we have represented them in the documentary.

We have also consulted broadly within the March 15 community and New Zealand’s wider Muslim community, and the documentary has been viewed by representatives a range of victims and Muslim community groups.

March 15 and the hate that caused it was incredibly complex - making a documentary on it was not easy.

But if there is one thing that I have learned about March 15, it is that you need to put the victims first.

By doing that, we can confront hate - and truly start to look beyond it.

Patrick Gower: On Hate is coming soon to Three and Three Now.