Christchurch mosque terror attack: What you need to know

1:49 pm on 18 March 2019

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

Here's what you need to know.

Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin

Flowers outside Al Huda Mosque in Dunedin. Vigils have been held in Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Whanganui and Dunedin, with the largest in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

What happened?

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

Fifty people died, seven at Linwood Mosque and 42 at Al Noor Mosque. One person died later 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 passers-by.

Fifty people were also injured. One child, a four-year-old girl, remains at Starship Hospital.

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

Who has been charged?

Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder, and more charges are likely. He has been remanded in custody until 5 April when he will appear in the high court.

An 18-year-old man will appear in court today accused of distributing the live stream of the Christchurch shootings. Police said one other person arrested on Friday was facing charges not directly related to the events.

What is happening today?

Counter-terror police in Australia raided two homes in New South Wales today as part of an investigation into the killings. The family the accused gunman continue to assist with the investigation, Australian police said.

The first bodies of victims are being returned to their families, who are preparing to bury them as quickly as possible, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

Members of the Linwood Islamic Centre, the scene of the second mosque shooting, gathered this morning to bless the building.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy opened two condolence books in Parliament's Grand Hall.

Students have returned to school in Christchurch for the first time since they spent more than three hours in lockdown as the attack unfolded. Education Secretary Iona Holsted said traumatic incident teams are going into 14 schools today and four early childhood centres have specialists on site. She said 44 schools had asked for help.

Christchurch District Health Board says all out-patient appointments will go ahead as usual this week. Christchurch Hospital is still caring for many of those injured in Friday's attack.

Marae in and around Christchurch have been closed for security reasons on police advice. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai said when doors re-open Tuahiwi, Rāpaki and Ngā Hau e Whā marae will be offered to the Muslim community to gather, to pray, or for overnight accommodation.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said there would be a heavy police presence around the country today to ensure New Zealanders' safety.

Free counselling is starting today at the Canterbury Charity Hospital for those who would like it.

Vigils and commemorations around the country

Yesterday evening an estimated 12,000 people turned out in Wellington to show their respects for the Christchurch victims and their families.

More commemorations are planned throughout the country in the coming days:

  • 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.
  • In Auckland, St Matthew's on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson Streets is is hosting an event from 5-8pm on Monday 18 March.
  • The Queenstown Lakes District Council will host candlelight vigils in Queenstown and Wanaka from 6pm Monday 18 March.
  • A vigil will be held at Cathedral Square in Christchurch at 8.30pm on Thursday, 21 March.
  • Amnesty International's Otago University branch is holding a vigil from 7pm on Thursday 21 March at the Octagon.
  • 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.

Read more:

Essential contacts

Victim Support has set up a Givealittle page has been set up for victims and their families following the attack. By Monday morning it had raised more than $5 million.

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.

Police launched a 'Tell Police' form on their website for anyone who wants to give them information on the attacks.

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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