Australian sporting identity Anthony Mundine has vowed to learn from New Zealand’s response to the Christchurch terror attack.
The Muslim former rugby league player and boxer flew to the heartbroken city to pay his respects to the 50 victims and many survivors of last week’s terror attacks.
He visited some of the wounded in hospital.
“I decided to fly to Christchurch this week because I feel it is my obligation as a Muslim to support those who are facing catastrophe and adversity,” he wrote for News Corp.
“That is our duty.
“I have met many survivors of the terrorist attack in Christchurch and I am amazed by their strength and resilience.”
Mundine met with members of the community at the Al Noor mosque where the first attack took place, after local businesses rallied to help reopen its doors on Friday.
He was later one of around 20,000 who took part in the call to prayer at the nearby Hagley Park.
The 43-year-old said he had been inspired by the nation’s response to the tragedy, including Ardern for “honouring Muslims in so many ways”.
The prime minister has been widely praised for her leadership across the past seven days.
“I wish Jacinda Ardern was Australia’s Prime Minister,” Mundine said.
“The amount of respect, honour, compassion and empathy she has shown to the Muslim people has touched my heart.
“If Scott Morrison, or any other Australian politician, had any respect they would have flown to New Zealand and acted like the big brother we’re supposed to be to our neighbours.”
Mundine promised to take Ardern’s “empathy and respect” for Muslims and Indigenous people with him back to Australia.
The prime minister was among those at the Hagley Park service.
“The Prophet Mohammed, sallallahu alaihi wasallam (Peace be upon Him) said: ‘The believers in mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body,” she said in a short speech.
“When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain. New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”
Most victims of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us,” Imam Gamal Fouda told the crowd, many wearing headscarves in support of the grieving Muslim community.
“To the families of the victims, your loved ones did not die in vain. Their blood has watered the seeds of hope,” he said in prayers broadcast nationally.