Christchurch mosque terror attack day 2: What you need to know

5:25 pm on 16 March 2019

At least 49 people have died in the Christchurch mosque shooting, the worst terror attack in New Zealand history.

Here's what you need to know.

Flowers left at cordon

Flowers left at cordon Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

What happened?

There were two attacks on Friday in Christchurch - one at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and one at the Linwood Mosque.

At least 49 people have died, seven at Linwood Mosque and 41 at Masjid Al Noor Mosque. One person later died in Christchurch hospital.

The dead include a five-year-old girl and her father, who were chased by the gunman and shot in front of horrified passersby.

There are 39 patients still in hospital - including 11 in intensive care - ranging from young children to adults, with gunshot wounds.

The attack is the worst act of terrorism in New Zealand history.

The national security threat level has been increased from low too high for the first time in New Zealand's history.

Three people are in custody, and 28-year-old Australian man Brenton Tarrant has appeared in court this morning charged with murder. Further charges will be laid.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said two improvised explosive devices were found attached to one vehicle, and weapons were found near both the mosques where the shootings occurred.

Are the risks limited to Christchurch?

Police said there was no guarantee the risk was limited to Canterbury and all New Zealanders needed to be extra vigilant. There is a heightened police presence nationwide.

Anyone who sees suspicious activity should call 111 immediately.

Distressing materials related to the attack are circulating online and police remind people it is an offence to distribute an objectionable publication. This is punishable by imprisonment.

Police said there would be a heightened police presence at community events today for safety and reassurance and dozens more officers would be moved to the Canterbury region.

What is happening in other parts of the country?

Police are at a property on Somerville Street in Dunedin which is linked to the shootings. Armed cordons remain in place.

In Auckland, police detonated two unattended bags in controlled explosions near Auckland's Britomart station, but the bags were found to contain scaffolding equipment.

What are the authorities saying?

Police initially said four people were arrested. Three people connected to the attack remain in custody and of them one is a woman. They cannot confirm if there are other people involved.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said one of people arrested is not connected to the attack. He had armed himself and planned to assist police.

Mr Bush said none of the three people in custody were known to security agencies in New Zealand or Australia.

Police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the shootings and have not received other threats.

However, Mr Bush said: "We are not searching for anyone that is an immediate threat, but that doesn't mean that doesn't exist."

Police took 36 minutes from the time a call was received yesterday to have the offender in custody.

Mr Bush said New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies were working together.

What is the prime minister saying?

Ms Ardern told a press conference in Christchurch this afternoon that authorities hoped to have the bodies of victims from the attacks out of the mosques by the end of today.

"[Police are] working to repatriate their loved ones in a way that is consistent with Muslim faith while taking into account these unprecedented circumstances and the obligations to the coroner," Ms Ardern said.

The primary focus of the investigation was identifying victims and having them returned to their families.

"At Hagley Park the focus there was on them being able to access their loved ones. Front of mind for them of course is fulfilling their religious expectations and that is burial."

Of the 49 confirmed dead, it was uncertain how many children were killed, however Ms Ardern said victims were predominantly between the ages of 20 and 60.

"Police are working to build a picture of this tragic event. A complex and comprehensive investigation is underway."

Mr Bush would brief the media tomorrow with more details of the events and the people have been arrested in relation to it.

Ms Ardern said the primary offender, Brenton Tarrant, was not finished with his attack when he left the Masjid Al Noor Mosque.

"There were two other firearms in the vehicle the offender was in and it was absolutely his intention to continue on with his attack," Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern arrived in Christchurch about midday. She said today that New Zealand gun laws would change and the government would move swiftly on that.

Tarrant was in possession of a gun licence. Five guns were used in the attack, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.

"My advice currently is that under that gun licence he was able to acquire the guns that he held. That will give you an indication of why we need to change our gun laws," she said.

Safety of New Zealanders was the biggest priority, she said.

In a press conference from Parliament last night, Ms Ardern said the shootings could only be described as a terrorist attack and New Zealand's threat level had been raised from low to high.

Ms Ardern said it was "clear this one of New Zealand's darkest days" and there was "no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme violence".

She strongly condemned the ideology of those who carried out the attack saying, "we utterly reject and condemn you".

At the request of the prime minister, the New Zealand flag is to be flown at half-mast on all government and public buildings until further notice.

Vigils for victims to be held around the country

  • Rotorua will have one at 7pm tonight at Tamatekapua.
  • Hamilton City Council has announced it will hold a vigil tonight from 8-9pm at Claudelands Park.
  • There will be a vigil in Nelson on the church steps on Sunday, 17 March.
  • A memorial service will be held the Napier Soundshell on Marine Parade at 1pm on Monday, 18 March.
  • Hastings will also have one at the same time at the Hastings City Centre Clocktower.
  • A vigil will be held at Cathedral Square in Christchurch at 8.30pm on Thursday, 21 March.
  • The Jummah Remembrance: Vigil for Lives Taken in Christchurch will be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 6pm on Friday, 22 March.
  • An anti-Islamophobia rally, Kia Kaha Aotearoa: Stand Against Racism, will be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 2pm on Sunday, 24 March.

A Givealittle page has been set up for victims and their families following the attack. By about 1pm on Saturday it had raised more than $1 million.

Read more:

What remains closed today?

Armed police remain at a cordon near the Linwood Masjid Mosque in Linwood, Christchurch, this morning.

Police have told mosques nationwide to shut their doors until further notice.

Several major events around the country will not be going ahead today following the attacks.

Cancelled events include: The third cricket test between Bangladesh and New Zealand; the Crusaders and Highlanders Super Rugby match in Dunedin; Christchurch's Slayer and Antrax concert which was scheduled for tomorrow; Auckland's Polyfest; the Otago University 150th anniversary street parade; and the Wellington Pride Festival hikoi and Out in the Park event, as well as numerous other events in Christchurch.

The police cordon has been lifted from Christchurch Hospital and people who need emergency health care can now attend the emergency department.

People have asked people not to visit patients at Christchurch Hospital unless it was essential.

Hornby, Lyttelton, Bishopdale, Redwood and Spreydon libraries are closed today, and all other libraries will open at midday.

Which roads are closed?

As of 1.35pm today:

  • Blenheim Rd CLOSED between Clarence St and Moorhouse Ave
  • Deans Ave CLOSED between Kilmarnock St
  • Moorhouse Ave CLOSED between Lincoln Rd and Blenheim Rd
  • Riccarton Rd CLOSED between Clarence St and Deans Ave
  • Linwood Ave CLOSED between Aldwins Rd and Worcester St
  • Cashel St CLOSED eastbound to Linwood Ave
  • Hereford St CLOSED eastbound to Linwood Ave
  • Blenheim Rd CLOSED between Clarence St and Moorhouse Ave
  • Moorhouse Ave CLOSED between Lincoln Rd and Blenheim Rd
  • SH76 Brougham St Closed westbound between Burlington and Antigua St
  • SH76 Brougham St CLOSED eastbound between Antigua St and Montreal St
  • Montreal St CLOSED southbound from Montreal St
  • Durham St NO westbound access to Brougham St

How is transport affected?

Air New Zealand and Jetstar are offering flexibility to anyone booked to travel to or from Christchurch this weekend.

Essential contacts

Those who have a missing family member are urged to go the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website, where they can register missing persons or register themselves as alive.

Missing persons can also be registered on 0800 115 019. A member of the police will be in contact thereafter.

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email

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