The Hill, March 26, 2019
A 95-year-old man from New Zealand took four buses to join a local march against racism to show his support for the Muslim community in the wake of a terror attack targeting mosques in Christchurch that left 50 people dead.
John Sato told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday that he usually passes time doing chores around his house and listening to music. But he said he couldn’t sleep after hearing news of the terror attack that took place in Christchurch 11 days ago.
I stayed awake quite a lot of the night and I didn’t sleep too well ever since, you know. I thought it was so sad. You can feel the suffering of other people," he said.
Sato, whose mother was Scottish and father was Japanese, told the radio station that it’s important to look after others regardless of their cultural background or ethnicity.
“I think it is such a tragedy and, yet, it has the other side,” Sato said, referring to the terror attack. “It has put people together.”
"It doesn’t matter what their race or anything. People have suddenly realized we are all one. We care for each other."
Sato told the local station that he visited a mosque near his house shortly after hearing news of the terror attack earlier this month — a start to what would later become a long journey for the man.
He reportedly left his home in Hardwicke over the weekend and took a bus to the mosque in Pakuranga, where he saw flowers and messages left in honor of the shooting victims.
That’s when he decided to take two transfers further into the city, where he arrived at a march against racism.
“Sitting on a bus is much more comfortable than walking,” Sato said, laughing. “You just sit back and you sit all comfortable.”
People reportedly gave Sato a hand when they saw him at the march. A policeman also reportedly gave him a bottle of water and took him home after the march.
“A policeman took me all the way home and waited down there until he saw me get up the stairs,” Sato said. “He was very kind.”
“That tragedy in Christchurch,” Sato continued, “look what it brought out in the people.”
“It shows the best of humanity.”