Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates

What we know:

  • Fifty people were killed at two Christchurch mosques on Friday
  • Twenty-nine people are still being treated for injuries, while eight remain in a critical condition
  • Thirty bodies have been identified and are in the process of being returned to their families
  • Significant gun law changes have been announced, including banning military-style semi-automatic weapons
  • More funerals are being held on Thursday, including one in Auckland.
  • A national two minutes of silence will be observed on Friday and Kiwis are being encourage by some movements to wear scarves in unity with the Muslim community
  • $7.5 million has been raised on Givealittle for the victims' families, and another $2.4 million on LaunchGood
  • Islamic State has called for supporters to "avenge their religion"
  • Turkey's President continues to play the livestream footage at his campaign rallies as well as calling for New Zealand to restore the death penalty
  • The police investigation into the attacks is the largest in Aotearoa's history, with support of international agencies like the FBI

If you would like to donate to the official Victim Support fund, go here. Victim Support's number is 0800 842846. If you need to talk to someone about what you've read or seen in the past few days, call or text Need To Talk? on 1737.

Refresh the page for the latest updates. Wednesday's real-time coverage can be read here.

7pm - An estimated 15,000 people are attending a vigil in Dunedin to acknowledge and remember the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

The vigil is taking place at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, having been moved from its original location of Octagon due to the number of people attending.

6.50pm - Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) urges people to remain vigilant after the attacks.

In a statement, the DIA asks for individuals and organisations to continue to report "objectionable material."

The on-going effort to stop the circulation of footage related to the attack involves multiple organisations, including law enforcement agencies and non-government organisations.

“The footage related to the attack has been classified as objectionable by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, therefore it is an offence under New Zealand law to possess, share and/or host it,´ said Digital Safety Director Jolene Armadoros.

5.54pm -A nationwide reflection for those killed in the Christchurch terror attack will be held tomorrow, Friday 22 March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

The Muslim Call to Prayer at 1.30pm will be followed by a two-minute silence at 1.32pm, at Hagley Park, opposite the Al Noor Mosque in Deans Ave, Christchurch.

 5.05pm - Jim Beam Homegrown will fall silent for two minutes on Saturday, to pay respect to the victims of the Christchurch massacre.

At 9.25pm, the music on all five stages will stop, and all artists will stand together in silence.

"All of the Homegrown whanau, including all the performers, wanted to show respect to those caught up in the tragedy and give the audience the opportunity to come together as well," said events chief executive Andrew Tuck.

The event is expecting 20,000 event goers, 15,000 of which will be visitors from outside the Wellington region. 

4.57pm - The Sky Tower and the Auckland Habour Bridge will be lit up to mimic candles from Friday evening, as a sign of solidarity and mourning.

The Tower and the Bridge have been dark since the tragedy, as a mark of respect. From 6pm on Friday, the base of the Tower will remain dark, while the top level is illuminated with orange light, flickering to resemble a candle flame.

Vector Lights on the Harbour Bridge will also be lit up with 50 "candles", from 8pm to midnight from Friday onwards.

SKYCITY and Vector staff, as well as customers in SKYCITY sites across New Zealand and Australia will also observe two minutes of silence on Friday.

4:20pm - Trade Me has released a statement supporting Ardern's announcement that military-style, semi-automatic weapons will be banned.

Chief executive Jon Macdonald said a firearms register should also be implemented.

4:10pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the identification process into all 50 victims has been completed and all next of kin advised.

Bush also said police will do all it can to support people handing in their weapons under a buyback scheme and asks them to ring them before they bring the weapons into a station.

An online form can also be used, and Bush said this method is preferred.

4:05pm - Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has tweeted her support of the proposed changes.

3:55pm - 2020 Presidential Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has praised New Zealand's quick response to the Christchurch attacks.

"This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand's lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States," he tweeted.


3:50pm - The New Zealand Police Association has applauded the Government for its decisive action on firearms. 

Association President Chris Cahill said the changes represent "a fine balance between the practical requirements of legitimate firearms users throughout the country and the need to protect society." 

"I hope that the moves immediately attract cross party support because it is important for New Zealanders to know that their political leaders are all on board with this extremely important move," Cahill said.

The association wants to see firearms registry to understand how many weapons are in the country.

"Today is an extraordinary day that was brought about by dreadful events.  This Government has acted swiftly and is sending a message nationally and internationally that the types of weapons and equipment used to enhance the capacity of those weapons to kill many people are not welcome here."

3:45pm - The Green Party will also support the proposed changes.

Co-leader James Shaw said the banning of military-style, semi-automatic weapons will make society safer.

"We are working constructively with our Government partners on further much-needed action to tighten access to guns in our country.

"I am pleased that our Government is acting so swiftly and decisively to rid the country of firearms designed to kill people," says Shaw.

3:40pm - The National Party will support the proposed gun law changes announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Leader Simon Bridges said the public doesn't need military-style semi-automatic weapons and will support them being banned along with assault rifles.

"We also support the Government’s proposals to limit the access to other high powered semi-automatic weapons and ammunition," he said.

"We remain committed to ensuring the safety of New Zealanders and fighting extremism in all forms.

"National will work constructively with the Government to ensure we get this right."

Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Newshub.

3:30pm - Federated Farmers and Fish & Game has come out in support of the Government's intention to toughen firearms regulations.

"This will not be popular among some of our members but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution," Federated Farmers security spokesperson Miles Anderson said.

Anderson said March 15 changed everything.

"Our message to our members is to remember that at least this way, responsible gun owners are going to be recognised for being law-abiding, safety conscious and skilled."

Fish & Game chief executive Martin Taylor said it was well considered and ensures public safety.

"Parliament is to be commended for presenting a united front to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders."

3:05pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the Government will ban military style semi-automatic weapons and all assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and anything that can modify weapons into having a semi-automatic capacity.

"All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday March 15 will be banned," she said.

"I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride."

Legislation should be passed by April 11.

As of 3pm Thursday, as a temporary precaution, a category E license will be needed to buy the weapons. This is intended to stop stock-piling.

"Sales should essentially now cease."

A gun buyback scheme will be implemented. All weapons that are handed back will be destroyed. It could cost up to $200 million.

There are essentially 13,500 military-style semi-automatic weapons in circulation in New Zealand.

2:45pm - Armed police continue to guard the Memorial Park Cemetery in Linwood while funerals are underway.

Another burial will take place at 3pm.

Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Newshub.

2:35pm - Whānau Day, part of the Auckland Arts Festival, meant to take place in Aotea Square on Sunday has been cancelled. 

Te Kuia Me Te Pūngāwerewere performances which were supposed to take place at 11am and 2pm will now happen at the Waipapa Marae at the University of Auckland.

2:25pm - Love Aotearoa Hate Racism say they are anticipating an "unprecedented turnout at a rally against Islamophobia and racism" at Auckland's Aotea Square on Sunday at 2pm.

The group, which says it is a "coalition of unions, community and migrat groups" suggests "Aotearoa for too long has seen the scapegoating of migrants and refugees, with mainstream politicians blaming immigration for our housing and economic crisis".

It is calling for volunteers to help with the event.

1:30pm - The Ministry of Education will review its lockdown processes on April 2 in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

"Because this lockdown was for a significant period of time, covered a large area of a major city, affected a very large number of families and occurred at a time of uncertainty about the nature of the events that were unfolding, it is even more important than usual that we undertake a review of all aspects of the lockdown," deputy secretary sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said.

The review will be undertaken with support from police and principal's associations as well as parents.

It is expected to take a few weeks to complete.

1:25pm - Police have tweeted a heart-breaking message they came across from a boy.

1:20pm - Haji Mohammed Daoud Nabi will be buried at 2pm at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Linwood. Some media have been invited to attend.

Nabi was described after his death by his son as someone who always helped people and leaped on another mosque attendee to save their life during the attack.

He was a former Canterbury Engineering employee and community leader from Afghanistan. He came to New Zealand as an asylum seeker more than 40 year ago.

Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates

1:05pm - Two Auckland Ray White real estate agents have been dropped from the organisation after allegedly making disparaging, racially-charged comments online.

Ray White told Newshub that it was a family owned company "made up of many thousands of people from a wide variety of nationalities, backgrounds and faiths".

"While we are very accepting of different belief systems, we promote diversity and respect towards others above all else. Any member whose values are not aligned with ours is inherently not a suitable member for our group."

1pm - Flowers continue to pile up at the vigil site in Christchurch.

Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Enoka Seneviratne

12:55pm - Several educations forums planned by the National Party have been postponed out of respect to those affected by the Christchurch attacks.

12:45pm - Further burials are scheduled to take place at 1pm at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Linwood.

11:45am - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has accused Facebook of playing host to terrorism after footage of the alleged gunman's attack was broadcast on the social media site.

"They have been hosting terror. If you broadcast a set of killings live for 17 minutes, you are hosting terror. You've done nothing to stop it, have you?" Clark told The AM Show.

11:25am - Politicians have spoken to people delivering a petition to ban semi-automatic weapons outside Parliament.

"I definitely feel that the intention of the horrendous terrorist attack was to divide us, to scare us. For the families in Christchurch they are in the midst of their grieving right now, we cannot know that grief, but we can walk along those people at every step of the way," said Grant Robertson.

National MP Chris Bishop said: "I am here on behalf of the National Party to say we hear your message, and Parliament will act."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said there is no reason to have these sorts of weapons in New Zealand.

11:20am - Muhammad Haziq Mohd-Tarmizi, a 17-year-old Malaysian boy, has been named as one of the victims of Christchurch's terror attacks. He was previously reported as unaccounted for.

Police have also confirmed the names of other victims of the attacks. Media outlets have already established the identities of many of the victims. 

Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Supplied

11:05am - A petition to ban semi-automatic weapons has been delivered to Parliament.

MPs Louisa Wall, Jan Logie, James Shaw, Grant Robertson and Chris Bishop attended, and a minute of silence was observed.

Nik Green, one of the people who started the petition, told those in attendance that "our Muslim community is suffering".

Hannah Clarke is calling on regulation for gun advertising.

"Our hearts go out to the victims in Christchurch," she said.

Wall and Bishop will receive the petition.

Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Newshub.
Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Newshub.
Christchurch terror attack: Thursday live updates
Photo credit: Newshub.

11am - One of the men who tackled 'Eggboy' Will Connolly after the 17-year-old egged Australian Senator Fraser Anning was reportedly involved in an incident at an Anglican Church in New South Wales last year.

The man reportedly carried a whip, a fake sword and a megaphone into a congregation and was later charged with disturbing religious worship - but failed to show up to court.

10:50am - Auckland Unviersity of Technology is hosting several events across its campuses on Friday to pay respect to those affected by the Christchurch attacks.

"Our Muslim community have invited women to wear a head-scarf as a mark of support, should they choose," the university tweeted.

Police will have a presence at events.

10:45am - Auckland Transport is adding capacity to its routes on Friday night when a number of vigils for Christchurch will take place.

10:30am - A Westgate Medical Centre doctor has stood down while an investigation is underway into comments he made online.

The medical centre told Newshub that an investigation is being conducted "due to concerns about comments made online".

"The Westgate Medical Centre serves a diverse community of patients and totally rejects any prejudicial sentiments."

10:10am - Anti-violence organisation Man-Up led a powerful haka at Christchurch's Hagley Park on Wednesday night.

Dozens of people joined in and an emotional Mulim woman thanked the group for their support.

10am - A service of prayer and hope will be held at 6pm on Thursday night in Latimer Square in Christchurch as an "inter-church, non-denominational event".

9:50am - A victim's burial is scheduled to happen at 10:30am at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Linwood.

9:20am - Kiwis of any gender are being encouraged to wear a head scarf on Friday as a mark of support to those affected by the attacks.

The Headscarf for Harmony movement has the support of the Islamic Women's Council and the New Zealand Muslim Association.

"It's choosing to move towards each other, to recognise our similarities, to not actively look for difference but to actively look to live in harmony together," said organiser Thaya Ashman.

9:05am - Primary teachers and principals will vote in online ballots about whether to accept the Ministry of Education's latest collective agreement offer, following the cancellation of paid union meetings in the wake of the attacks.

On Sunday, it was decided that meetings this week and next would be cancelled so members could be at their schools to provide stability.

An online ballot will now be run between April 1 and April 5.

9am - The New Plymouth District Council is hosting a vigil for those affected by the Christchurch attacks on Friday evening.

The event has also been organised by Migrants Connection Taranaki, the Muslim Association of Taranaki, and local iwi and hapu.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom, Migrant Connections chair Lane Mephan, Migrant Connections coordinator Gheeta Kutty, and Muslim Association of Taranaki secretary Omar Siddiqui.
New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom, Migrant Connections chair Lane Mephan, Migrant Connections coordinator Gheeta Kutty, and Muslim Association of Taranaki secretary Omar Siddiqui. Photo credit: New Plymouth District Council

"New Zealand is a place of inclusiveness, aroha, tolerance and kindness, and the horrific events in Christchurch are not who we are," says Neil Holdom, Mayor of the New Plymouth District.

"Let’s send a strong message of love to Christchurch from Taranaki this Friday, by coming together and reaffirming that we are united, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

The candlelight vigil will begin at 7pm at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands.

8:50am - Britain's counter-terrorism chief has blamed mainstream media coverage for radicalising far right terrorists, reports The Guardian.

Neil Basu said it was ironic that some media have criticised social media companies for hosting extreme content, while also showing footage or images of the Christchurch terror attacks themselves.

He said every terrorist has sought inspiration from "the propaganda of others" which can often be found relayed in mainstream media.

"A piece of extremist propaganda might reach tens of thousands of people naturally through their own channels or networks, but the moment a national newspaper publishes it in full then it has a potential reach of tens of millions. We must recognise this as harmful to our society and security."

8:25am - A cartoon in The Washington Post has compared Jacinda Ardern's response to a terror attack with that of United States' Presidents. 

8:20am - The Turkish President's comments about Kiwis being sent home in coffins if they travel to Turkey with bad intentions have been quoted out of context, according to a local journalist.

Hasan Abdullah, a journalist from Turkish state broadcaster TRT World, said New Zealand media are wanting to "spice up things [because] it's the spicy news they may think sells".

8:10am - Former Minister Peter Dunne has compared Christchurch attacks to the 9/11 attacks on New York in terms of their impact and referred to Friday as the Ides of March for 2019.

The Ides of March is well known in reference to a phrase from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, where a soothsayer warns Caesar of impending doom before the ruler is assasinated. 

Dunne also praised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"Her efforts deserve the tolerance of our support, whatever our political allegiances. Normal political hostilities will resume over time, but, for now, the situation is one that should be above the partisan fray," he said in a statement.

8:05am - Two campaigners will present a combined petition to ban semi-automatic weapons to Parliament on Thursday.

Between two petitions, more than 65,000 signatures have been collected to ban the weapons, which were used in Friday's attacks.

Labour MP Lousia Wall and National MP Chris Bishop will receive the petition.

8:00am - The Spinoff has compiled some expert tips of how to take care of yourself following the Christchurch attacks.

7:55am - Comments about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern from media personality and former AFL player Sam Newman have been heavily criticised online in the wake of the attacks.

7:50am - Accomodation is bursting at the seams in Christchurch as relatives of those affected by the attacks have flown into the city, as have many international journalists who have come to cover the events.

7:40am - Justice Minister and Minister for the GCSB Andrew Little has said multiple reviews into our spy agencies may be necessary to avoid another terrorist attack.

An inquiry into New Zealand's spy agencies, including the police, customs and immigration will announced after it emerged that the alleged gunman was not on any watch list.

But Little said a more thorough review may take place afterwards.

"We need to know whether there is anything inside of those organisations which meant that they couldn't see what was happening or they simply didn't see, and if there were things that they should have seen that they didn't.

"We need to get an answer to that question fairly soon, the question then is whether we follow that up with a much more deep seated review that looks at what we need to do to change to make sure we never face this again."

He said the agencies feel a huge sense of responsibility and recognise there are questions to answer.

7:25am - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has told The AM Show that the alleged gunman should not "be allowed to use the court room as a platform to spread his poison".

However, he also pushed back on the idea of a closed trial, as "you've got to have an open system of justice".

"I can’t advise a judge, they’re totally independent, but I think the judge might quite properly – anytime this man starts to rave about his ideology, close him down, and if he can’t be closed down, removed from the court. 

"These guys are after the fame, the celebrity, the notoriety, that’s what motivates them – deny him that."

Goff said the alleged shooter's face shouldn't be shown and his name not mentioned.

7:15am - Richard Dawkins has tweeted his perspective on the events of the Christchurch attacks and praise towards Prime Minister Ardern.

7:10am - One of the victims of Friday's mosque attacks will have their funeral in Auckland on Thursday.

Hafiz Musa Patel was a former Imam of the Fijian Mulim League.

7:00am - Australians are being urged to exercise caution and await advice before travelling to Turkey in light of the Turkish President's comments.

6:50am - Should there be a closed trial for the accused Christchurch terror attack gunman? Take part in The AM Show's poll.

6:15am - More burials and vigils will be held today. Thousands are expected to show up at Al Noor Mosque on Deans Ave, one of the shooting sites, to hold hands and form a "human shield".

A Syrian father and son were the first to be buried. Their funeral was held on Wednesday.

5:50am - Police Commissioner Mike Bush has suggested the two officers who caught the gunman should be honoured for their bravery.

Asked if they'd get awards, he said he wouldn't "pre-empt anything", adding there "aren't too many more acts of bravery higher than that". 

The killer was shouting "I've got a bomb!" as they apprehended him, he added.