Aramoana; Pathway to the Sea

Aramoana is a small coastal town in the South Island of New Zealand. This little town has less than 300 residents and the Maori name translates to “Pathway to the Sea”. I visited this beautiful sea town for the first time four years ago and part of the natural beauty I experienced was this eerie feeling from the land. It’s only a 30 minute drive away from Dunedin and full of wildlife, Sea lions you can usually see at the spit, penguin sightings at sunrise and sunset as they run across the sand. There are no shops or stores, so ensure you bring a picnic with you and a jumper because it gets pretty cool and windy.

The pre surf stare at Aramoana, New Zealand James Kerr

Location – Aramoana, New Zealand, James Kerr

@Jamesbkerr took me here as this was one of his local surf spots he grew up on, with the beach break at its best during north and east swells and plenty of uncrowded lefties and rights with a hollow tubes and picturesque “A” frame waves that all bystanders can appreciate.

I came across this collection of photos this Valentines day, the same day that we had the horrible news from Florida, America about the school massacre, where seventeen people lost their lives and I reflected on the eerie feeling I had this day in the photo where the camera was capturing what I could not see, but feel.

Friends doing the pre surf stare at Aramoana, New Zealand

The pre surf stare at Aramoana, New Zealand James Kerr and Niall McColm

As beautiful as Aramoana is and how lovely the word sounds, it ruminates the memory of New Zealand’s largest massacre, where thirteen people were shot by an aggravated local who had disputes with his neighbors and was not mentally well. That day resonates with most New Zealander’s, I was only four at the time, but recall studying this in school in my later years and that has always tainted the name for me. The decision was made to burn down the perpetrators house three days after the incident and what many people fail to see as a positive out of all the death and tragedy that happened, that day paved the way for the review and restriction on gun laws and all weapons. These new laws were passed in 1992 and I am proud of little New Zealand and the choices that were made at that time. This does not mean New Zealand is gun free, actually there are more than 1 million firearms in New Zealand, its just there are more permits required before you can order a gun online, restrictions on amount of ammunition sales, inspections and requirements so weapons are securely stored and requirement of re-vetting of all licensed gun holders every ten years. I think this is important to remember as there is a perception that reviewing gun laws will result in, no guns.

Aramoana, New Zealand

Eerie beach break, Aramoana, New Zealand

Although little New Zealand did great, I think its also important to look at the facts. That day I researched whether the additional laws reduced the deaths occurred at the hands of guns in New Zealand. I came across a paper which conducted a review of 40 incidents following the two years of implementation of the firearm policy. What this paper identified was that of the 40 incidents resulting in death, 62% of them were registered guns and of these, 100% were shot by a family member, spouse, friend or acquaintance and not in a dark alley way or because of a robbery but in their home, work or perpetrators home. The average age of the perpetrator was thirty-one and 83% of the victims shot, were shot by someone who had never had a criminal record or conviction for a violent crime. These facts alone made me rethink the way I feel about guns and whether we are doing enough even in Australia and New Zealand.

In a perfect world we would not have violence or guns, however not one human is perfect. We are full of imperfections and feelings. We react at times in anger or become depressed and every normal being has these feelings and its what we do at these times which can prevent the future violence and harm of others in the community. Would the world be happier with out Guns? Sure, however, that not necessarily possible and with the facts at hand, even reducing the risk to ensure personnel are law abiding citizens who are mentally well at the time of applying for a gun licence does not fix the ongoing issue. So, would it be better to talk more openly about anger management, mental health, bullying and domestic violence and educate and create identifiers and reporting lines in the community to prevent these crimes before they happen?

I think this may be the best solution forward. I’m sure there are more checks and restrictions we can add to the management of gun laws and I fully support this, however I think prevention is key, educating people that guns are not bad, but every person, regardless of how smart, educated, happy, rich they are, has the potential to at one point be pushed to their limit and react in a way that could hurt or harm others and themselves.  This may change how people feel about owning one or reporting on their friends and family when they are in times of need if they are gun owners.

 

Click Here if you would like to read a study conducted on the 2 years after gun laws were ammeded, by Philip Alpers & Barbara Morgan.

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