MPs pay tribute to Chch victims: 'We will surround you with aroha'

4:08 pm on 19 March 2019

MPs in Parliament have paid tribute to the victims of the Christchurch terror attacks this afternoon, opening today's session with a Muslim prayer.

Jacinda Ardern in The House.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told New Zealand Parliament that 15 March 2019 will forever be etched into New Zealander's minds.

Parliament opened today for the first time since the attack, with a Muslim prayer.

Ms Ardern told the House of the bravery of the police on that day who put their own lives at risk to keep New Zealanders safe.

She said New Zealand will give the shooter nothing, not even his name.

"He sought many things from this act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name," she said.

"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless."

"One of the roles I never anticipated having, and hoped never to have, is to voice the grief of a nation," she said.

"At this time, it has been second only to securing the care of those affected, and the safety of everyone.

"And in this role, I wanted to speak directly to the families. We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage. We can. And we will surround you with aroha, manaakitanga and all that makes us, us. Our hearts are heavy but our spirit is strong."

Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Opposition leader Simon Bridges said Parliament and New Zealand right now was one voice - and that was one of love, not hate.

He said some of the victims had come to New Zealand to find "solace in a world full of problems".

"It was, for them, as it is for us - the best little country in the world," he said.

"We let them down and, for that, we are sorry."

Mr Bridges said all New Zealanders were grieving with the families affected.

"Over the past four days, there's been a lot of soul-searching, reflection, sadness, anger and shame across New Zealand and around the world."

"Our strength as a nation is our compassion and our welcoming of diversity ... this will not change us," he said.

"We [don't] consider ourselves Christian or Muslim, Sikh or Jew, Māori or Pākehā, Chinese or Pacific Islander, Indian or any other ethnicity. Today and forever we are all New Zealanders."

Green Co-Leader Marama Davidson

Marama Davidson Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

There was a "need to create an inclusive world where no one feels excluded," Green Party MP Marama Davidson said.

She acknowledged the calls from Muslim communities.

"We must never again ignore or contribute to anti-Islamic hatred as part of the rise of white supremacy and extreme right ideology," she said.

"As one young Muslim woman said, 'we've now lost lives, so I think it's time that we started having the uncomfortable conversations'."

Ms Davidson also thanked the Prime Minister for her calm while addressing the situation: "Kia kaha Jacinda Ardern."

"We have lessons to learn, conversations to have," she said.

Winston Peters following a Cabinet meeting on gun law reform, 18 March.

Winston Peters Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Leader of the Act Party David Seymour said normally in New Zealand, all the bad news is in the world sections of the newspaper, "how can it be that our country is supplying the bad news" to the world.

"Up and down this country have opened up seemingly bottomless wells of love and strength."

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters condemned the "sickening scourge of terrorism" as the "the work of a coward".

"Friday March 15 2019 is the day everything changed in our country, a day when someone from outside our shores attempted to terrorise us and tear us apart.

"That, we believe, was his objective - and he has failed."

Mr Peters - who is also leader of NZ First said the accused shooter's thoughts were not New Zealanders' thoughts.

"His ways are not our ways."

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