Stephen Colbert has cancelled a tour of New Zealand following the devastating terror attacks in the country.
A gunman killed 50 people and wounded another 50 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday (15Mar19), prompting outpourings of grief in New Zealand and across the world.
The U.S. late night host planned to film The Late Show there this week but told viewers on Monday that the trip had been cancelled due to the tragedy.
“I just love that country. If you’ve never been, go. The people there are unbelievably kind and welcoming. Obviously, we’re not going to go down now but we hope to go down in the future and again, we want to say to everyone down there how sad and heartbroken we are for what that country is going through,” said Stephen, before praising the peacefulness and beauty of the nation.
“For one of the hallmarks of New Zealand and one of the things I have always thought of, is it’s this wonderful, isolated country so far away from the problems we take for granted here north of the equator.”
The shootings prompted condemnation from Kiwi stars including Russell Crowe, Taika Waititi, and Sam Neill, as they and many others expressed anger at the right-wing nationalist ideology that the suspect, a 28-year-old Australian man, cited as motivation.
Stephen also linked the deaths to the rise of racism around the world to the shootings, and called out U.S. President Donald Trump for his failure to swiftly and unequivocally condemn extremism.
“Truly, an evil creature has arrived on that island,” he continued. “I pray with all my heart that they take the action down there and have the courage to take action that we seem to lack up here in the United States.”
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who appeared on Stephen’s show in September and invited him to film in her country, has announced plans to introduce new anti-gun laws in the wake of the tragedy.