A group of Ukrainians in Aotearoa have written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asking them to visit the war-torn country.
Ardern met Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in New York this week.
But leaders of the Ukrainian Association of New Zealand and Ukrainian refugee support groups have written to the prime minister, urging her to “visit Ukraine and meet President Zelensky”.
“We sincerely hope you will do so in the near future,” they wrote in a Sept. 22 email.
“We hope you do not underestimate the positive impact on the morale of the Ukrainian people, as New Zealand has the utmost compassion for them and we do not look away from their suffering and hardship…
“As well as the interest of the rest of the free world to see that” [the] The New Zealand leader stands firmly behind Ukraine.”
“Aotearoa can lead by example,” the letter reads.
“New Zealand’s reputation and international influence in such matters has always been considerable and has grown considerably in recent years with the determination of its Prime Minister and your international reputation as a compassionate leader of a free democratic nation that has attained the highest status. “
It ended by saying, “None of us would want to look back into the future and say we didn’t do everything we could.”
Kate Turska, founder of the Mahi support network for Ukraine, is one of the signatories.
She told RNZ it was “great” that Ardern had met Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
But she said a site visit, “to see the enormity of the destruction and suffering” in Ukraine “could potentially strengthen New Zealand’s commitment, and the desire to do more, as well as help the rest of the world.” to really show the world in action that New Zealand stands next to Ukraine”.
“We wanted to encourage our Prime Minister to walk the walk.”
Aotearoa also had to immediately expel the Russian ambassador from the country, she said.
Mahi for Ukraine met fortnightly with government departments and MPs to discuss support for Ukrainian refugees, who had arrived in Aotearoa through the government’s “Special Ukraine Policy for 2022,” Turska said.
This allows Ukrainian-born New Zealand citizens and residents to bring in relatives whose lives are at stake as a result of Russian aggression.
Turska’s parents came to New Zealand in April through this policy.
The Prime Minister’s Office has been approached for comment.
In the evening, Jacinda Ardern addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Let’s all be clear: the war in Russia is illegal. It’s immoral,” she said.
“It’s a direct attack on the UN Charter and the international rules-based system and everything this community should stand for.”