TODAY |

Jessica Mutch McKay: Covering terror attacks, 'adjusting to a new reality'

Terrorism has always been a problem for others overseas. Not in New Zealand. Not here. We're safe.

I was the Europe Correspondent for TVNZ from 2013 to 2015 and I covered my fair share of terror attacks while I was there.

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris sticks out in my mind. Twelve people were killed in a strike on the satirical magazine.

It's not so much the attack that sticks out for me, because they are always brutal, but it was the feeling.

I felt unsafe in Paris at that time. People were on edge, people were unsure, people were looking for answers.

Many world leaders led a march through a boulevard in Paris to try and reassure people. I covered that march and remember feeling really nervous walking along looking up at the tall buildings covered with snipers.

I was relieved to get on the train and go back to London. But even in London there is an undertone that the next attack on Parliament, on the Tube, at an embassy, is inevitable.

I hadn't realised how smug I felt coming back to New Zealand, that I did not have to think about that all the time. It was always sad, but it was never in our own country.

I went on a State Department trip to the US with a group of international journalists a few years ago. In meeting we would often talk about countries, and New Zealand got the reputation for being 'so annoyingly perfect'.

We didn't have the level of bloodshed and attacks that many of my fellow journalists had to deal with. 

Like many attacks around the world, this targeted Muslims. It just hadn't been New Zealand Muslims that were targeted before.

I went to Christchurch for the day on Saturday with the Prime Minister and I got that on-edge feeling.

Add in a dash of adrenaline and it was a familiar feeling covering terrorism from my days in Europe.

I'm still in work mode and it hasn't completely registered with me yet. For those on the ground though, they will, sadly, be adjusting to a new reality.