Christchurch shootings, six months on: 'You'll never be able to go back to March 14'

Sunday marks six months since the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Commemorations will take place around the country, honouring the 51 people who lost their lives. Tributes will be on display at Christchurch Art Gallery throughout the day.

Zahra Ditta's father was shot in the leg, and says he still lives with the physical and emotional pain. She says many survivors and their families won't be present at the events being held on Sunday.

"It's still quite tough for a lot of people. I know there's a memorial happening in the city and the art gallery, and I know a lot of people who don't want to go. It's still quite raw for them. Everyone's commemorating in different ways.

Her father "still can't sleep at night, his pain is still there and he's lost so many friends... and what he saw as well, those kinds of things don't go away."

She fears of another mass shooting will take place in New Zealand if action isn't taken.

"We've lost so many people of our community, and a lot of people are afraid it's going to happen again - because racism does exist in New Zealand, a lot of it actually, and I think a lot of us have turned a blind eye towards it. But how are we going to stop this happening again to us, or a different community?"

A new firearms register announced last week will track licence holders' full name, and address and guns. Law experts say New Zealand has a global responsibility to knock the policy changes out of the park. 

Terrorism and law expert Al Gillespie of the University of Waikato says the US has a lot to learn from us.

"We've taken not just gun law reform and a royal commission - we've also tried to change the world with the Christchurch Call. This kind of work will take years, if not decades, to really bear fruit. But we've actually started to plant those seeds to try to change the future."

Al Gillespie
Al Gillespie. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Arms Legislation Bill having its first reading on September 24. With the National Party criticising how the gun buyback has gone so far and saying the Christchurch Call will achieve nothing, Dr Gillespie hopes political games don't stand in the way of further action.

"The next part of the debate is going to be the hard part, as we have to start talking about hate speech laws as we start trying to further the Christchurch Call. We need to have cohesion in Parliament, where both political parties speak with the same voice, for the good of the country...

"Ultimately the goal will be to try to reduce the risk in the future of this happening again. You'll never be able to take it to zero - you'll never be able to go back to March 14. But on the whole, they're making great progress in reducing that risk for the future."

Ditta says the love they've received have helped many through the grieving process. 

"It's been very difficult, but I think as a community we're slowly healing. I can't believe it's been six months. It's gone very fast. We've received lots of support and lots of love from everyone, so that's helped in the healing process."

But she says the wounds will never truly heal.