Christchurch mosque attack: What the Royal Commission of Inquiry heard from affected whānau

Whānau of survivors and victims of the Christchurch mosque attack told the Royal Commission of Inquiry they haven't felt safe since March 15 - whether that is while praying at the masjid, or going about their daily lives.

The families and victims received the report into the attack last week and on Tuesday it was made public. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologised for several failures identified in the report.

"Going forward, we need to ensure an adequate focus of resources on the range of threats New Zealand faces and enhance our security and intelligence, and social cohesion work accordingly," Ardern said on Tuesday.

The Commissioners were tasked with analysing 1168 submissions to the inquiry - 1123 from people and 44 from organisations. Among those who submitted included affected whānau, survivors, and witnesses of the mosque attack.

"For many years, the Muslim community has raised concerns over issues like the disproportionate scrutiny by security and intelligence agencies. This report confirms there was an 'inappropriate concentration of resources,'" said Ardern. "It also identifies failings within the firearms licensing system."

One affected whānau member who lost their younger brother told the inquiry the mosque attack was the hardest thing they'd had to go through.

"The thought of someone even touching him, let alone killing him, drives me crazy. He was so young, his future has been unjustly taken from him and from all his family and friends who wanted to share that future with him."

Flowers and messages of condolence to victims of the mosque attacks are seen at a memorial outside the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 21, 2019. New Zealand has banned the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons after the country's worst-ever attack that killed 50 people in two mosques last Friday, 15 March.  (Photo by Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

Another submitter, a survivor, detailed how they set up three different beds at night so "I have one in three chances of being shot".

"If someone comes to kill [me] if I'm sleeping I could probably survive this way," the survivor said. "If someone was to come now I can't run away, my leg is gone."

The survivor also said they no longer trust the system. 

Another submission from a community organisation expressed shock at how agencies "that were intended to protect citizens failed in detecting his [gunman] intended actions with catastrophic consequences".

But the Royal Commission in its report found there was no information that pointed public agencies to any potential terror attack before March 15.

"It is evident the [individual] was not on the radar [of public agencies," the community organisation said.

Ardern said going forward, the Muslim community and every New Zealander deserves a system that keeps them safe.

That change is needed, according to another community organisation, which accused public agencies of not valuing the Muslim voice. The Royal Commission also found the New Zealand Intelligence Service "decided to concentrate its scarce counter-terrorism resources on the presenting threat of Islamist extremism".

"The fact that after such a focus of surveillance on the Muslim community there was no-one from within it who was trusted sufficiently by the security agencies to have a high-security clearance is an indicator the agencies' advice was bias," said the community organisation in its submission.

All 44 of the Royal Commission's recommendations have been accepted by the Government. Those recommendations revolve around improving NZ's counter-terrorism efforts, firearms licensing system, and country's response to a growingly diverse population, as well as supporting the ongoing needs of affected whānau.