Christchurch terror attack: Sunday as it happened

These live updates have now ended.

It's been two days since New Zealand's "darkest day", as the Prime Minister put it. Refresh the page for the latest updates, and go here for the latest full coverage.

What we know:

  • Fifty people were killed at two Christchurch mosques on Friday, and 50 hurt
  • An Air NZ engineer of 16 years is among them
  • The terror suspect - Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28 - has been charged with murder, but police say other charges will follow
  • Three others were arrested in the immediate aftermath - a woman, who has been released without charge; and two men. Police don't believe any of them were involved in the attack itself
  • Another person was arrested as a result of the scene examination, but police say there's no indication they were involved in the attack
  • Tarrant sent a copy of his manifesto to an email address belonging to Jacinda Ardern operated by staff just before the attack began, but she didn't see it
  • Dozens remain in hospital, children among them. One has been transferred to Starship Hospital in Auckland
  • 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 $4.5 million has been raised on Givealittle for the victims' families

Newshub will broadcast live again on Sunday at 5pm to cover the latest events - watch here.

If you would like to donate to the official Victim Support fund, go here. Victim Support's number is 0800 842846.

8:35pm - The Wellington vigil for victims of the Christchurch terror attack has just come to a close. Hundreds of people had gathered in the Basin Reserve to pay their respects.

The vigil follows many others across the country over the weekend.

The crowds at the end of the Wellington vigil.
The crowds at the end of the Wellington vigil. Photo credit: Newshub.

8:14pm - The Wellington Phoenix fans have honoured the 50 people killed in Friday's attack by launching into song in the 50th minute of the game against Western Sydney Wanderers.

The crowd at Westpac Stadium sang 'Tutira Mai Nga Iwi'. Players from both team and officials also huddled together for a minute's silence before the game.

7:31pm - Farid Ahmed, who lost his wife Husna in Friday's attack, says he forgives the gunman who tore his family apart.

"I love him to be honest," he told Newshub.

"I think probably he went through some trauma in his life, probably he wasn't loved... I don't hate him at all, I don't hate him at all, not at all."

Watch the 6pm news piece on him here.

6:59pm - In his statement, Commissioner Bush has also provided some information on police response times in the wake of the attack.

  • Police received its first 111 call at 1:41pm. The first armed Police unit was on scene at 1:47pm - that's six minutes to respond.
  • Within 10 minutes, the Armed Offenders Squad was on scene.
  • Within 36 minutes, a mobile offender was in custody.

Commissioner Bush says he's "very proud" of the police response to the attack.

6:44pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush has issued a statement addressing the Christchurch terror attack. It reads as follows:

"Following the terror attack on Friday, I am fully aware that many people will want to return to their routines. The public wants to go back to school, work, their recreational activities, etc.

"It's the role of New Zealand Police to enable people to do that. That is why people in Christchurch will notice that police are highly visible - on the streets, around businesses, schools, and in the air.

"This is for everyone's safety; it’s to reassure the public. This increased presence and visibility is throughout New Zealand; our cities, towns, and neighbourhoods.

"Again, this is for everyone's reassurance. It's our job to ensure people feel safe and are safe. So you will feel safe to go about what you want to do."

5:42pm - Bush is defending the police response to the shooting, saying armed officers were on site within six minutes of 111 being dialled.

Within 10 minutes the armed offenders squad were on the scene, and the suspect was apprehended within 36 minutes.

5:40pm - Police Commissioner Mike Bush says officers are still investigating who sold the deadly weapons to the shooter. They include a semi-automatic AR15.

5:30pm - Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha says he's focused on returning all the victims to their loved ones.

"We acknowledge that the last 48 hours have been the most horrific in these families' lives. We understand it is an added trauma for them that they have not been able to bury their loved ones quickly, according to their religious duty," he said on a statement.

"This is an unprecedented event and the support of the Muslim leaders and their community has been invaluable."

Police are working with Coronial Services to identify the victims and gather any evidence.

"Identification hearings will start this afternoon and we are anticipating that the process of returning the deceased will commence tonight," says New Zealand's Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall.

"This is a complex task which must be completed according to New Zealand law. We are working closely with community representatives to explain the process."

The nationalities of the victims cannot be confirmed at this stage.

5:16pm - Haumaha says the victims range in age from very close to 3 years-old, to 77.

5:14pm - Chief Coroner Marshall says staff are working as quickly as possible to allow bodies to be released to their respective families.

Five Coroners are currently in Christchurch to fast-track the process.

However she says they are working meticulously to ensure the families receive the correct victims, saying there would be "nothing worse than giving the wrong body to the wrong family".

5:08pm - Deputy Police Commissioner Willy Haumaha says premises have been made available for the families to wash their loved ones according to Islamic customs.

Haumaha and Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall have met with Muslim leaders to discuss the process going forward in terms of releasing bodies.

Some victims are considered missing, presumed deceased, he said.

4:40pm - Ardern says Cabinet will be held on Monday to discuss possible gun law changes. She made it clear these would happen.

"We cannot be deterred from the work that we need to do on our gun laws… they will change."

4:30pm - New Zealand will ensure Brenton Tarrant's trial will take place here and he will not be extradited to Australia, Ms Ardern says.

"He will certainly face the justice system of New Zealand for the terrorist attack he has committed here," she said.

4:25pm - Ardern says ACC is putting more staff on the ground. Families are eligible for funeral grants of about $10,000, as well as partner and children payments, compensation for loss on income, and grants.

Immigration status is not a factor.

4:20pm - The increased police presence in Christchurch will continue, Ardern says. Mosques will be guarded while they are in use.

4:15pm - Jacinda Ardern says families were given a provisional list of missing people last night, and a small number of the bodies of those killed were beginning to be returned to their families.

4pm - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to give another update on the Christchurch terror attack. The press conference is set to get underway at 4pm on Sunday.






3:40pm - Christchurch Hospital says it currently has 34 patients injured in the mosque attacks. 12 people are in intensive care in a critical condition.

One patient, a young girl, has been transferred to Starship Hospital in Auckland in a critical condition.

2:50pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has visited the mosque in Kilbirnie, Wellington.

As the crowd sang, Ms Ardern placed a wreath on the steps.

Christchurch terror attack: Sunday as it happened

2:30pm - Schools will reopen across Christchurch on Monday after going into lockdown on Friday.

Ministry of Education director for Canterbury, Coralanne Child, says schools will have plans on how to provide care for students and counsellors will be available.

Hagley College will remain closed, as it's being used as an emergency welfare centre.

2:23pm - Support is flooding in for Muslim communities across New Zealand.

2:09pm - Greg Robertson, the Head of Christchurch Hospital confirmed 34 people were still being treated. Twelve of those were in intensive care and the majority of patients are males.

He said two children were being treated and they are in a stable condition.

He praised hospital staff and said there were a lot of people working who were getting physically tired.

1:20pm -
Check out the latest list of places you can pay your respects.

1pm - Air New Zealand says one of its long-serving engineers is among those killed.

Lilik Abdul Hamid, an aircraft maintenance engineer in Christchurch, was in the Deans Avenue Mosque at the time of the attacks.

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon says the airline is devastated to lose one of its team.

"Lilik has been a valued part of our engineering team in Christchurch for 16 years, but he first got to know the team even earlier when he worked with our aircraft engineers in a previous role overseas," said Luxon.

"The friendships he made at that time led him to apply for a role in Air New Zealand and make the move to Christchurch. His loss will be deeply felt by the team."

He leaves behind wife Nina and children Zhania and Gerin.

"I would also like to acknowledge the many, many other families, including the families of some of our other team members, who have also lost loved ones in this tragedy, and the wider Muslim and Christchurch communities," said Luxon.

12:45pm - The Aussie teenager who dumped an egg on a racist Senator's head after he blamed the Christchurch atrocity on Muslims has spoken out about his experience.

"Don't egg politicians," William Connolly said in a video posted to Twitter. "you'll get tackled by 30 bogans at the same time. I learnt the hard way, f***."

But he has no regrets, and supporters say he's a much better representative of true Australian values than Senator Fraser Anning or the terror suspect.

'Eggboi'. Photo credit: Twitter/William Connolly/ITV

12:30pm - Was the killer on his way to a daycare centre to continue his inhuman rampage? Newshub's Hal Crawford takes a look at the chilling evidence.

12:20pm - A former soldier says he tried to warn police about rifle club the alleged Christchurch mosque terrorist trained at.

"The ethos within the club concerned me. It was like being 1980s NRA meeting. It was the perfect breeding place for this kind of thing," Pete Breidahl told Newshub.

12:15pm - The Bangladesh cricket side, which narrowly avoided being caught up in the shooting at the Deans Ave mosque, have arrived home. Their tour of the country was called off only hours after the attack.

12:10pm - The Canterbury Super Rugby side is being urged to drop its 'Crusaders' label.

"Considering the targeted hate crime that happened in Christchurch's mosques, it must go. Immediately," wrote Newshub sports reporter Ross Karl.

"They can no longer run onto a rugby field with that moniker on their chests, next to an emblem of a man brandishing a sword in battle."

Pre-match entertainment.
Pre-match entertainment. Photo credit: Getty.

The crusades were a series of attempts by Christians to expel Muslims from what they both consider 'holy land' in the Middle Ages.

11:45am - The UK's MI5 intelligence agency is reportedly investigating Brenton Tarrant, understanding he may have met with members of far-right groups while in Europe two years ago.

Terror suspect Tarrant's manifesto contained threats against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and said one of his inspirations was the killer who drove a van into worshippers at a London mosque in 2017.

11:40am - Another person has been taken into custody "due to evidence collected during the investigation", police have announced. That brings the total in custody to four.

But it's still believed Brenton Tarrant was the only one involved in the attack.

"There is no information to suggest this person is linked to the attacks," police said.

"Enquiries are ongoing in relation to this person and we will update you when we are able."

A search of the property in Dunedin where Tarrant is believed to have lived until recently turned up "no items that would present harm to members of the public", but a number of other items of interest were found.

Neighbours have been allowed to return home. 

11am - There's a flower shortage in Wellington, with Countdown Kilbirnie apologising to customers for "any inconvenience".

Flowers in short supply.
Flowers in short supply. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:55am - Air NZ has been slammed online for the prices of flights to Christchurch in the aftermath of the terror attack.

"People are literally trying to fly in to #Christchurch to be loved ones and for funerals happens in the next day or so. Pretty pathetic to be prioritising profit in current circumstances," Guled Mire tweeted on Saturday.

10:50am - Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the officers who apprehended the Christchurch terror suspect have been "overwhelmed and humbled" by the public's response.

Video of the arrest showed Brenton Tarrant's vehicle crashed on the kerb, officers with guns drawn and pointed at the alleged killer.

"He was stopped because he was believed to be a direct threat," Mr Bush said on Sunday.

"Our staff acted with absolute courage in intervening, and had to use some force and deploy tactical options to make that happen. They put themselves in harm's way to stop any further attack, and I do believe they did stop further attacks."

The officers have been "getting lots of support", but won't be named just yet.

"I'm so proud of what they've done," said Bush. "They've prevented further deaths and risked their own lives to do so. It's what police officers come to do every day…

"They are overwhelmed and humbled by the feedback they are getting. You ask them and they'll tell you, they were just doing their job."

Police are continuing to monitor sites around the city, and will remain at mosques "until we believe there is no threat".

10:30am - The US media is impressed with Jacinda Ardern's quick focus to crack down on the kinds of weapons used in the Christchurch killings.

mass shootings headline Vox
Photo credit: Vox.

"New Zealand shows willingness to curb guns after one, not 1981, mass shootings," a headline from Vox reads, saying there have been 1981 mass shootings in the US since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, in which 27 schoolchildren and teachers were gunned down.

US federal gun laws didn't change after that atrocity, with proposals to expand background checks and ban assault weapons voted down in the Senate.

While Ardern has said gun laws here "will change", it remains to be seen just how that might happen. 

10:25am - Canadian rock legend Bryan Adams has paid tribute to the victims, telling fans in Nelson it felt strange to be playing a show, but they had to "keep our lives moving forward".

Adams was set to play Hagley Park on Sunday, but cancelled it soon after the "horrific" events.

Bryan Adams.
Bryan Adams. Photo credit: Getty

10:20am - Talk about wrong place, wrong time. A vigil in the US to remember those killed in the Christchurch terror attack has been interrupted by a Trump supporter who drove his 'Build the Wall' float past mourners - twice.

10:10am - Police Commissioner Mike Bush said an email containing the alleged killer's manifesto was not sent to police before the attack.

"By the time we were advised of the email, the attack had taken place."

The email was sent to an email address belonging to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, operated by her staff, but only minutes before the massacre began. She never saw it.

"Because the email contained no details of the attack, its nature or location, and was received just minutes before the attack began, it unfortunately would not have been able to prevent what occurred," said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister.

Mike Bush.
Mike Bush. Photo credit: Newshub.

9:35am - The death toll has risen to 50, police say. The same number are also injured.

A woman arrested on Friday during the initial response to the attacks has been released without charge. A man will appear in court on Friday facing firearms charges.

"At this point we do not believe they were involved in these attacks," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. 

An 18-year-old also arrested will appear in court on Monday, but their arrest was only "tangential to this matter" and police don't believe he was involved in the attack.

9:33am - The police are about to give an update. Watch it live here.

9:30am - Someone is flying a drone near Hagley Park, and police want it grounded immediately. 

"Drone activity has the potential to stop all helicopters responding to the Christchurch terror attack," they said in a statement.

"Police would remind people there is currently a no-fly zone in place and the penalties for someone caught breaching this are severe."

Meanwhile, here are the covers of Sunday morning's papers.

"Anguish and heroism," reads the Sunday Star-Times. "We must be strong and stay together," is the Sunday News' headline. 

Sunday papers.
Sunday papers. Photo credit: Newshub.

9:15am - Gun fans have been rushing in to buy new weapons, fearing a crackdown, Newsroom reports.

The Christchurch Gun City outlet was reportedly busy just a day after the massacre, and an Auckland shop owner said they've had a significant increase in sales.

Comments left on Facebook page Kiwi Gun Blog showed owners aren't happy with the Government's plan to further restrict ownership.

One post said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's comments made her the "salesman of the year", while another said it was "tyranny" to ban semi-automatic weapons of the kind used by the gunman.

Other comments took aim at Ardern's appearance, and another said the "terrorist won".

Meanwhile, the official Givealittle crowdfunding effort for the victims' families has raised $3 million. Another fundraising effort, organised by the New Zealand Islamic Information Centre has raised more than $1.5 million.

9am - The Sydney Opera House has been lit up with a giant silver fern.

The Sydney Opera House.
The Sydney Opera House. Photo credit: AAP

"We feel the loss in Christchurch especially deeply given the closeness of our two countries. It is as though this has occurred on our own soil,"  New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told AAP.

8:50am - In his latest remarks on border security, US President Donald Trump has used language that's been compared to that of Christchurch terror suspect Brendon Tarrant.

Trump issued the first veto of his presidency to override Congress' decision to block his national emergency declaration, intended to free up funds to build a wall on the border with Mexico to stop migrants coming into the US.

"People hate the word 'invasion', but that's what it is," he said.

US news site Vox said that was "chillingly similar" to the content of the alleged Christchurch killer's manifesto, which was published just before the massacre.

In one part, the manifesto says the murders were "to show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands".

Trump has repeatedly called immigration at the southern border an invasion in the past, despite illegal immigration being at a 20-year low.

When he spoke with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday, Ardern told him to show "sympathy and love for all Muslim communities".

One of the first things Trump tried to do when he became President was to block immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

8:35am - Australia has revoked far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos' visa after he blamed the Christchurch attack on "extremist leftism and barbaric, alien religious cultures".

Immigration Minister David Coleman - who personally approved the visa just a week ago - said Yiannopoulos' comments were "appalling".

8:15am - Supportive comments and donations have flooded in from across the world for a survivor of the Christchurch terror attack and his four-year-old daughter.

An exhausted Wasseim Alsati posted a video to his Facebook page from a hospital in Christchurch, where he is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds.

"Please pray for me and for my daughter, hopefully she will be so much better."

Wasseim Alsati.
Wasseim Alsati. Photo credit: Facebook/Wasseim Alsati

7:45am - Dozens of gamers have been changing their online profile pictures and names in tribute to the suspected killer.

Gaming news site Kotaku reports Steam - the world's biggest PC gaming platform - has had to remove more than 100 profiles honouring Brenton Tarrant.

Publishing his image unpixellated in New Zealand would be in breach of court orders.

7:30am - A gun law expert says we need to follow in Australia's footsteps if we want to prevent another tragedy from happening.

""If this person had tried to commit this crime in Australia, he would have failed," said founding director Phillip Alpers. 

6:55am - Dunedin's iD fashion show went ahead on Saturday night, after agonising deliberation in the wake of the mass shootings in Christchurch.

It began with a minute's silence, and donations were made to the official campaign to fundraise for people affected by the tragedy.

"One of the iD board's guiding principles is collaborating with people from different cultures and diverse countries," organisers said. "They considered this principle as they made this agonising decision."

Security was beefed up for the show, despite no suggestion of any threat.

6:50am - Under Islamic custom, burials are meant to happen straight away. Linwood assistant Imam Lateef Alabi told Newshub while some of the mourners are feeling angry about the delay, the Koran says local laws also have to be followed

"From the Government's side, they've done the best they can do, so it's just that we have to wait."

6:30am - Tests and assignments scheduled from the March 16 to 24 have been cancelled for University of Canterbury students.

Vice-Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey understands it's a hard time, and says wellbeing is priority.

The university will gather to show solidarity and support on Monday.

6:20am - Cordons remain in place around the mosques at the centre of the tragedy,  and part of the city's Southern Motorway remains closed.

Deans Ave, Riccarton Rd, Lindwood Ave and some roads adjacent are not open today.

An update on the other two suspects who are yet to appear in court is expected in at a press conference at 9:30am.

5:40am - The alleged killer sent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a copy of his manifesto just minutes before the attack on Friday began, CNN reports

The email was sent to a "generic" account handled by staff and Ardern never saw it, chief press secretary Andrew Campbell said.

CNN says the lengthy document contains "anti-immigrant anti-Muslim screeds", while others have reported it also contains numerous jokes popular on the internet.

The email was reportedly worded as though the massacre had already happened, and it was sent so soon before the attack, there would have been no chance to stop it.

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty