New Zealand has never been the perfect country you might imagine from afar, from the quirky stories about lovelorn gannets and avocado heists, but it is generally safe, and stable, apart from the earthquakes. In these times, that makes it an idyll. It is telling that three days ago, the greatest threat in the island nation – the headline news – was an outbreak of measles.
Then, in a matter of hours on Friday, 49 people were shot dead in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, their deaths livestreamed on Facebook. Explosive devices were found attached to cars, and the city was put on lockdown. There was no creeping threat, no public debate: New Zealand’s terror-risk level went from a perceived zero to an unequivocal high.