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New Zealand mosque attack: Cartoonist Pat Campbell recreates silver fern in memory of Christchurch shooting victims

The iconic silver fern that has long been a symbol of beauty and solidarity for New Zealanders was recreated by The Canberra Times artist Pat Campbell to represent the number of lives lost in the barbaric mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques last Friday, in which 50 people died. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called it assault on the nation's values, with the New Zealand's cabinet on Monday agreeing on measures to tighten gun control laws "in principle".

Campbell's cartoon comes days after the Sydney Opera House featured the silver fern as a symbol of unity for the people of New Zealand. Offering his condolences, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier also said how residents of both nations were not "just allies" or partners but a family.

One of the main suspects, Brenton Tarrant, is a 28-year-old Australian citizen, who is believed to have single-handedly carried out the terror attack at both the mosques in a span of 36 minutes during Friday prayers, for which a large number of worshippers had gathered. He had also livestreamed his gruesome act on Facebook for 17 minutes.

Hauntingly beautiful, Campbell's recent cartoon shows Muslims in different stages of prayer. The art also vaguely numbers the number of victims in different stages of prayer, some as they kneeling, at the time of being shot. An award-winning artist, Campbell was earlier accorded the 2013 Walkley artwork award for his illustration 'Glimmer of Hope', that was a "poignant comment" on on Julia Gillard's prime ministership in Australia.

 New Zealand mosque attack: Cartoonist Pat Campbell recreates silver fern in memory of Christchurch shooting victims

Representational image of a police cordon. AP

Endemic to New Zealand, the silver fern or Cyathea dealbata, has historical and cultural roots among the Kiwis. It was embraced by the Pakeha (New Zealanders who are of European descent) as a symbol of their new-found home, anchoring new Kiwis to this landscape. It soon became a symbol of 'belongingness' to the country. Native associations sprang up in the 1890s, inspired by similar associations in Australia and Canada. This eventually gave rise to nationalist literature, poetry and songs.


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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2019 17:56:39 IST

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