As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday

This story is no longer being updated. Go here for the lastest on the horrific terror attack that's rocked Christchurch and New Zealand.

What we know:

  • Forty-nine people have been killed at two Christchurch mosques in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is calling "one of New Zealand's darkest days" 
  • The suspect has been named as Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28
  • He has been charged with murder, but police say other charges will follow
  • Two others are in custody
  • There are 36 injured individuals in Christchurch Hospital, with 11 in intensive care, including a two-year-old and a 13-year-old
  • A five-year-old victim has been transferred to Starship Hospital in Auckland
  • A Dunedin property where the suspect used to live has been searched and the surrounding cordon lifted 
  • The Warriors' game at Mt Smart will be free of charge. The Crusaders versus the Highlanders game has been cancelled
  • New Zealand's national security threat level has been lifted from low to high for the first time in the country's history
  • The three individuals in custody were not on any watchlist, and had no criminal history in Australia or New Zealand
  • More than $2.3 million has been raised on Givealittle for the victims' families

If you would like to donate to the official Victim Support fund, go here. Victim Support's number is 0800 842846. Newshub's full coverage can be found here.

8:55pm - The Givealittle page set up for those affected by the Christchurch terror attack is now the "fastest and largest" page in the site's 10 year history.

It has raised $2.3 million in 24 hours.

8:30pm - Vigils are also being held at Takapuna, Tauranga, and in Dunedin.

8:00pm - A vigil has begun in Claudelands park for people to pay their respects to those affected by the shootings.

7:30pm - A video has emerged of the moment Senator Fraser Anning is egged by a young man, and then tries to punch the man.

Anning's comments on the Christchurch attack on Friday have been widely criticised.

6:35pm - The lockdown at Hawke's Bay Hospital has now been lifted.

After investigating police has determined there is no threat to the hospital or the public.

6:30pm - Over the last hour, families have made their way to the Christchurch Hospital for a briefing. They were told there would be a list of people who have been killed and a list of those having treatment in hospital.

Two men Newshub spoke to were extremely unhappy as they are still waiting for answers. They have nine people they are still waiting to hear if they are dead or alive.

6:25pm - A silver ferm will be displayed on the Sydney Opera House tonight.

6:20pm - Newshub has heard incredible stories of survival and heroism emerge from the Christchurch terrorist attack. One was from Len Peneha, a man whose home neighboured the Hagley Park mosque and rescued five people who were in it at the time of the shooting.

6:00pm - Senator Fraser Anning who was widely criticised for comments he made after the Christchurch attacks has reportedly been "egged".

5:45pm - The iD International Emerging Designer show will continue with its show at The Regent Theatre in Dunedin on Saturday evening.

It will begin with a minute of silence as a mark of respect, while attendees are invited to make donations to support those impacted by the Christchurch shootings.

Extra security has also been organised, but their is no suggestion of any threat.

"The Board respects the choice of people who may choose not to attend the event and will refund any tickets for those who make that choice."

5:30pm - Many families are still desperate to find relatives who may have been caught up in Friday's incident. Hospitals have lists of those who are currently in their care.

It is customary in the Muslim faith to remove wallets, phones, jewellery, shoes and other items which could be used to identify them while in prayer. That has made it difficult for police to identify some of the individuals.

5:20pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newshub that one of the key takeaways from the incident was the sentiment that the shooting were not reflective of what New Zealand is. 

She committed again to changing gun laws during her time as Prime Minister.

5:05pm - Here is what we know about the alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant

4:55pm - Police are appealing for more information about the Christchurch attacks on Friday.

They have created a "Tell Police" form where people can provide information, photos and other document.

Video footage can also be submitted seperately.

Police do remind the public, however, that it is not an emergency channel, and anything suspicious that is seen should be reported by calling 111.

4:35pm - The Canterbury District Health Board (DHB) has released a statement noting that 36 people are being cared for in Christchurch Hospital following Friday's terror attack.

They are aged from 2-years-old to in their lates 60s.

Immediately after the shootings, the Canterbury Health System provided emergency care to 48 people.

Some people with minor injuries were discharged on Friday night, leaving 36 to be cared for the hospital.

Eleven are being looked after in the hospital's intensive care unit, and one critically injured child has been transferred to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

4:30pm - A photo has emerged of Brenton Tarrant as a child with his family.

As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Supplied.

4:15pm - Police are responding to a report of a threat at Hawke's Bay Hospital, which has been put into lockdown.

Police are working to understand the circumstances.

Anyone requiring urgent medical assistance should call 111, or for less urgent matters people should attend their nearest medical centre.

4:10pm - It has emerged Brenton Tarrant, an alleged shooter, was a member of the Bruce Rifle Club in Milton since 2018.

The Vice-president of the club, Scott Williams, said the South Otago club was struggling to come to terms with the events on Friday.

4:05pm - Several drivers at the Melbourne 400 leg of the Supercars Championship have paid tribute to those affected by the attacks by placing silver ferns on their cars and helmets.

4:00pm - National leader Simon Bridges has tweeted a photo showing politicians from different parties united.

"New Zealand is uniting in this moment of despair. Today, I joined the Prime Minister and other party leaders in Christchurch," he said.

"This attack is foreign to everything that makes us Kiwis, our beliefs, our values, our tolerance, how we live, and get along with one another."

3:55pm - Ardern said there is a "primary perpetrator" but it is still a complex investigation.

3:48pm - Ardern wouldn't explictly confirm reported comments from Attorney-General David Parker that the Government would ban semi-automatic rifles. She said there is a raft of changes to be considered, inclduing the modification of guns.

Cabinet's only focus on Monday will be the Christchurch shooting and the aftermath.

3:43pm - She was asked what it is like being in the same building as the alleged shooter.

"I'm also in the same building as people who are bringing him to justice."

She has been in contact with her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on Saturday and will stay in touch with him. 

Ardern also did not want to speak about whether the alleged shooter, an Australian citizen, would be extradited. 

3:38pm - An update on the two other individuals in custody will be given on Sunday.

Ardern said she is not able to say how many children were killed in the incident, but some were. Most victims were men.

She said it is hoped all bodies will be removed from the mosque by the end of Saturday.

3:35pm - There are 39 injured people in hospital currently, with 11 in ICU, according to the Prime Minister.

Ardern said it is believed Tarrant intended to continue attacking before he was apprehended.

There is concern from the community about the burial process. Ardern said respect for the custom of the victims was necessary, as was the processes of the Coroner.

The Ministry of Education is working with Christchurch schools and learning centres following Friday's incident and a trauma team has been mobilised.

3:30pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking at the Christchurch Justice Precinct.

Security at mosques will continue until there is no longer a threat, but police, communities and central Government will stay in dailogue beyond that.

Earlier on Saturday she visited friends and families of the victims.

3:20pm - Attorney-General David Parker has reportedly declared that New Zealand will ban semi-automatic rifles at the Auckland Aotea Square vigil.

3:10pm - Police have reiterated their key priority is public safety, not just in Christchurch but nationally.

"We have deployed staff right across the country," said Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

"Our other key priority is making sure that those people so horribly affected by these events get the support and welfare that they need."

2:20pm - Crowds continue to gather near the mosque by Christchurch's Hagley Park.

As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Newshub.

2:09pm - The Rock The Park event in Grey Lynn has been cancelled out of respect for the Muslim community.

2:04pm - Vigils are being held across New Zealand today, with one currently underway at Aotea Square in Auckland.

Ministers David Parker and Phil Twyford appear to be in attendance, as is Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Newshub.
As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Newshub.

2:00pm - The Crusaders' Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin has been cancelled.

Each team will receive two competition points.

1:35pm - Mike Bush has said he was very happy to hear the Prime Minister's comments about there being a proposed change in gun laws, but he couldn't say more. 

1:34pm - It was 36 minutes from the time police received a call about the incident until when one of the shooters was in custody, which has been described as "an incredibly fast response time" by Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price.

Bush said police were on site at the mosques long before then.

1:33pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush has spoken about the additional individual arrested on Friday who was later released.

"As you know, we apprehended four people on the day, one was released quite early. A member of the public who just wanted to get their kids home, but decided to take a firearm," he said.

"There was another couple arrested at a cordon, and we are currently working through whether or not that person or those persons had any involvement in this incident".

1:32pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has visited the Canterbury Refugee and Resettlement Centre along with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, National leader Simon Bridges and Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

"We are here now, but we will be here whenever you need in the coming days, the coming weeks, the coming months.

"Our show of solidarity is just not in the here and now. New Zealand is a place that we cherish equally for its inclusiveness, for its diversity and I will consider it my personal mission as Prime Minister to defend that so long as I have the privilege of holding this office."

All politicians present expressed their horror at the situation.

As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Newshub.
As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Newshub.
As it happened: Christchurch comes to terms with tragedy on Saturday
Photo credit: Newshub.

1:31pm - Police and other agencies, includung St John and Fire and Emergency, are speaking to reporters.

1:30pm - Labour MP Deborah Russell shared a photo from outside a mosque in Kilbirnie in Wellington.

"Flowers, and people using chalk to draw symbols of love," she wrote.

1:20pm - US President Donald Trump says he can't see a rise in white nationalism worldwide, despite the attack.

"I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems," he told reporters at the White House, the Washington Post reported

"If you look what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don’t know enough about it yet."

It's been reported one of the suspects named Trump as an inspiration before the attack.

1:15pm - About $2 million has been raised for the victims' families via crowdfunding sites. 

More than $1m of that came from New Zealand-based Givealittle, and the rest from LaunchGood.

Hamilton City Council has announced a vigil will be held opposite Hamilton Jamia Masjid Mosque, on Heaphy Tce at 8pm Saturday night.

1:05pm - The Police Association is backing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's call for a change to the country's gun laws, and wants any debate about it to be "short and swift".

"There is no place in the upcoming debate for the radical gun lobby which has made its presence felt in previous attempts to make our country safer," said president Chris Cahill.

12:55pm - Australian broadcaster Waleed Aly has delivered an emotional speech after the Christchurch terror attacks, saying "this has been coming".

"The most dishonest thing, the most dishonest thing would be to say that I am shocked."

Waleed Aly.
Waleed Aly. Photo credit: The Project/Network 10

12:40pm - Web forum Reddit has removed two of its notorious sections which frequently carrying horrific video content. It's not clear yet if the ban is temporary or permanent.

"Any content containing links to the video stream are being removed in accordance with our site-wide policy," ownder Conde Nast said in a statement.

12:20pm - The Warriors have announced all remaining tickets for Saturday's NRL season opener against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium will be free.

"New Zealand is hurting," said CEO Cameron George.

"We are New Zealand’s team in the NRL and we want the public to join us this evening to acknowledge collectively those who have been affected by the heinous act in our country.

"Let's use tonight’s match as an opportunity for the New Zealand public to stand shoulder to shoulder."

12:10pm - Suspected gunman Brenton Tarrant has appeared in court, handcuffed in white prison clothes and flanked by two police officers. He flashed a white supremacist symbol while in the dock.

He was remanded in custody without a plea and will appear again on April 5.

Brenton Tarrant in court.
Brenton Tarrant in court. Photo credit: Newshub.

12pm - Actors Sam Neil and Oscar Kightley are among the well-wishers at Ponsonby Mosque on Saturday.

Sam Neil and Oscar Kightley.
Sam Neil and Oscar Kightley. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:55am - A Christchurch man has claimed he was wrongfully arrested during the chaos on Friday afternoon because he was dressed in camouflage gear.

"I still don't understand how I was doing disorderly behaviour for wearing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time."

camouflage man arrest
The man's arrest was caught on camera. Photo credit: Supplied

11:45am - The Bangladeshi cricket team have talked about how they only narrowly escaped the attacks after they left for a press conference.

The side had been at the Deans Ave mosque to pray, but left just in time.

11:40am - Auckland's St Patrick's Day parade, planned for Sunday, has been cancelled as a mark of respect from the organisers.

11:30am - The cordon on Somerville St, where the suspect lived until recently, has been lifted. Armed police remain outside.

The suspect's former house.
The suspect's former house. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:22am - Suspect Brenton Tarrant has appeared in Christchurch District Court, wearing prison clothes and cuffs.

He did not apply for name suppression and has been remanded in custody.

10:45am - About 125 extra police officers have been deployed to Christchurch.

Comissioner Mike Bush said a "complex investigation" is underway.

"New Zealand has never seen an event like this before and NZ Police is dedicating all available resources to our response, not only in Christchurch but right across the country," he said.

"This attack has been an enormous shock for all New Zealanders, and I am aware that there is a real sense of fear and concern for personal safety, particularly among our Muslim communities.

"I want to reassure all New Zealanders that we are doing absolutely everything in our power to respond to this attack, and deploying all available resources in communities across New Zealand."

The suspect who'll appear in court on Saturday is only facing one charge at present, but further charges "will" be laid, Bush said.

10:40am - A two-year-old boy is among the injured, the Canterbury District Health Board has confirmed. Another child is a 13-year-old boy. Of the 11 patients in the intensive care unit, 10 are male and one female. 

A number of Muslim sports stars from around the world have sent their condolences to the victims and thier families, including Mohamed Salah and Enes Kantar.

10:30am - A Hoyts theatre next door to the Christchurch District Court has been emptied, and a guard is preventing anyone from entering.

One would-be moviegoer told Newshub they weren't told why. 

"Everyone's on edge, everyone's a bit worried," he said.

10:20am - Flowers are being laid at the fence to Christchurch's Botanic Gardens, the council's official remembrance spot.

Flowers at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Flowers at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Newshub.
Flowers at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Flowers at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Newshub.

One of the bunches has a note reading: "You are loved. You are welcome. You are Kiwi."

The latest information from the DHB says there are 47 in hospital, most of them men. Eleven are in the intensive care unit. Three of the injured are children, one of which has been sent to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

10:15am - Christchurch District Court says it will be closed to the public during the appearance of the 28-year-old man charged with murder, due to the heightened security risk.

10:05am - Canadian singer Bryan Adams has cancelled his Christchurch gig, which was scheduled for Hagley Park on Sunday - near one of the two mosques that were targeted.

"In solidarity with the victims of the mass murder yesterday in Christchurch, NZ, our concert scheduled for Sunday at Hagley Park will not go ahead," the 'Summer of 69' singer tweeted.

"Tickets will be refunded in full to the card that they were purchased with."

10am - Media have joined police and two soldiers the throng outside the court in Christchurch, awaiting the first appearance of the prime suspect in the attacks.

A police Eagle helicopter is flying around the central city, watching from above.

Outside the court in Christchurch.
Outside the court in Christchurch. Photo credit: Newshub.

9:50am - Jacinda Ardern says US President Donald Trump asked her what support the US could provide. 

"My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities."

9:30am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the death toll at this stage remains 49. Forty-one died at Deans Ave and seven at Linwood Ave.

The child in a critical condition being transferred to Starship Hospital is aged five, she said. Previous reports said they were four. 

Additional pathologists are being flown over from Australia to assist medical services in Christchurch.

The Australian man, one of three in custody, was not a Christchurch resident, Ardern said, with the suspects believed to have been based in Dunedin. None have a criminal history here or in Australia.

A fourth person who was arrested has been released - they were trying to help police, who arrested them because they were armed.

Ardern said intelligence agencies have been "stepping up" their investigations into far-right extremists, and "our gun laws will change" as a result of the tragedy.

The main suspect got his licence in 2017.

Ardern urged people to stay home if possible, call 111 if they see anything suspicious, and refrain from spreading the killers' videos and material.

She is heading to Christchurch, as is National leader Simon Bridges.

The number to call to report missing people, she said, is 0800 115019.

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub.

The weekend issue of Perth newspaper The West Australian has a striking cover, making it clear the suspect who livestreamed the attack was born in Australia.

Newshub has obscured the images and text.

The cover of the West Australia (censoring by Newshub.)
The cover of the West Australia (censoring by Newshub.) Photo credit: West Australian

9:20am - National MP Chris Bishop's blunt language towards a racist Australian Senator who blamed the attack on Muslim immigration has been applauded.

"F**k off," Bishop told the Queenslander. 

Chris Bishop/Twitter.
Photo credit: Chris Bishop/Twitter.

9:05am - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has called for a crackdown on guns and social media.

"How is it with all these algorithms that these smart people in social media headquarters had that they can't jump on this immediately?" she asked Magic Talk. 

"How can a video be broadcast live for 17 minutes?"

9am - Armed police are stationed outside the Christchurch District Court ahead of one of the suspects appearing there sometime on Saturday.

8:35am - The chief executive of Twitter - the social networking site one of the suspected killers posted images of his guns to in the days before the attack - has spoken out.

"Love to the families and friends of the victims of this act of terrorism in Christchurch New Zealand," Jack Dorsey wrote. "This is sickening and affects all of us."

The video of one of the attacks has been re-uploaded to Twitter a number of times.

Dorsey didn't respond to numerous requests to "clean up" the site, which has had an ongoing problem with extremist content.

8:30am - Synagogues across New Zealand are closed this weekend on police advice.

"The Muslim community is at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers," Juliette Moses of the Auckland Jewish community told Newshub.

8:20am - US President Donald Trump says he has spoken with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"I informed the Prime Minister that we stand in solidarity with New Zealand - and that any assistance the USA can give, we stand by ready to help. We love you New Zealand!"

8:15am - The Mongrel Mob is among the many groups condemning the attacks. 

"Our Muslim families and communities do not deserve such a violent and ruthless attack to be carried out upon them," a member wrote on Facebook.

8am - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has expressed her shock.

"One goes into the news sites and thinks, 'How could this happen? We're a peaceful country - this is not what we think ourselves to be,'" she told Magic Talk.

"I'm deeply shiocked. My heart goes out to all of New Zealand, to Christchuch, to the Islamic community."

Helen Clark.
Helen Clark. Photo credit: Newshub.

7:50am - Well-wishers in Christchurch have set up a halal food drop for people affected by the terror attack

And the man who was race relations conciliator at the time of the 9/11 attacks has labelled the attack "evil" and "repugnant".

7:30am - Police say the death toll remains at 49, with two of the 42 injured in a critical condition. One of those is a four-year-old, who is being transferred to Auckland's Starship Hospital.

Three people remain in custody. 

"Our investigations are in their early stages and we will be looking closely to build a picture of any of the individuals involved and all of their activities prior to this horrific event," police said in a statement.
"There is no guarantee the risk is limited to Canterbury and we need all New Zealanders to be extra vigilant. Our message to you is simple: if you see something suspicious, say something - call 111 immediately."

They're also reminding people that distributing the alleged killer's material is illegal. 

7:15am - The papers are hitting the streets. The front cover of Christchurch's The Press reads "End of innocence", with a photo showing a man wearing traditional clothing covered in what appears to be blood.

The Press, the day after the horror attacks.
The Press, the day after the horror attacks. Photo credit: Newshub.

The New Zealand Herald, based in Auckland, went with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's words: "Darkest day".

The NZ Herald.
The NZ Herald. Photo credit: Newshub.

7am - There is shock intelligence agencies did not have any of the four suspects on their watchlists. 

"To get something like this underway and to keep it quiet, particularly with the number of people involved, surprises me," former police negotiator Lance Burdett told Newshub.

6:15am - Vigils in London are being held, with people standing outside New Zealand House with placards condemning terror.

UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has laid a wreath.

Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Reuters

6:10am - Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says four Pakistanis were among the injured being treated in hospital. It says five are missing and authorities are trying to identify them.

6am - Nearly half-a-million dollars has been donated to the official Victim Support fund, set up on crowdfunding site Givealittle. More than 7600 people have chipped in to date.

5:40am - US President Donald Trump appears to have deleted a link he posted on Twitter to a news article about the Christchurch terror attack on far-right news site Breitbart. UK paper The Independent described Breitbart as a "far-right website that peddles xenophobia and extremist ideologies".

5:30am - Buckingham Palace has lowered its flag to half mast, and the New Zealand flag is flying at 10 Downing St in London.

2:35am - Former US President Barack Obama has sent his condolences.

"Michelle and I send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community. All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms," he tweeted.

As-it-happened coverage of Friday afternoon and evening's events can be read here.