President Obama paid tribute to victims of the New Zealand earthquake and it was an important tribute to Indigenous Pakeha peoples. This morning he tweeted, “Will never forget the deadly tectonic plates that faulted the 1st MarthasQ a few decades ago, helped trigger this one, and been destructive there and here.” From the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, “Ash and smoke billowed from Mount Ruapehu as the world’s most active volcano belched lava, ash and a plume of steam for a second day Tuesday, experts said. Its explosive eruption killed at least 14 people and injured dozens more on Monday.” Not wishing to alarm New Zealand authorities, the former President also told the story of the eruptions. “More than 500 known gas explosions have ripped through Ruapehu alone since 1985 – 12 in just seven years and triple the long-term average,” he said. “The fissures that have erupted are more than 100 years old, and the fault that ruptured is older still. This is a threat that has been a part of life for the South Island’s Pakeha peoples for ages. The Earthquakes have spared the Pakeha very little compared to other parts of the globe.” News of the volcanic eruption was met with a mixture of praise and horror on social media. “Just when you’re happy with your life. And your life is so so great – a big fat bad sky rocks your house and wipes out tens of people,” said one commenter. “President Obama just paid tribute to the people who lost their lives in the New Zealand earthquake,” added another. “They were simply living better lives than the President did.”

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