This past Monday saw tragedy hit my beloved Tokai forest with the brutal and senseless murder of a high school pupil who was simply out having a run. I happened to be in the forest at the time and it was awful to witness the panic and devastation surrounding the search and subsequent finding of this young girl. These tragedies will never make sense and if I feel such utter sadness and devastation, I can only imagine what her poor, poor family is going through. My heart goes out to them.
Last night we did a silent walk in the victim’s memory. While walking I started to feel anger mixed in with my sadness. Anger that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, that we have access to incredible mountains and forests and beaches, and yet we are not safe. What is the point of living in a place that offers all of this if we are at risk using it? I run in the forest almost daily. I walk in the forest with my dogs every day. I am grateful for it. But I am also very aware that it can bring danger. That in a few minutes many people’s lives can possibly change because the bottom line is, we are not safe.
I don’t want to be an alarmist or sound melodramatic but it is reality. A few neighbours of the forest suggested we boycott it until safer measures are put in place. Quite honestly I feel the opposite. Let’s visit the forest as much as we can. Let it become even busier. Let’s not be driven out of a place that should be everyone’s to enjoy. And let’s find a solution to it being a safe place for all. Let’s bring in zero tolerance to crime. Let’s not be forced to change our way of life but rather force these disgusting cowardly criminals to change theirs.