March 15 shooting: Jacinda Ardern among speakers at Christchurch remembrance service

It's nearly two years since the March 15 terror attacks and, on Saturday, the Muslim community, the city and the country's leaders came together to remember the frightful events of that day.

The commemoration at Christchurch arena is the first proper remembrance service of the terrorist attack, after last year's was cancelled because of COVID-19.

Christchurch people coming together in peace on Saturday in a city that two years ago was doused in hate.

There was a Muslim prayer and a Māori waiata - all faiths, races and cultures joining as one, thankful for a chance to commemorate after last year's service was cancelled.

"We are here to show a message of love and unity. We are together," said Gamal Fouda, the Imam of Al Noor mosque.

The service was about the victims and those left behind.

Dr Kiran Munir remembered saying goodbye to her husband on the morning of March 15.

"Little did I know that the darkest day in New Zealand's history had dawned. That day, my heart broke into a thousand pieces, just like the hearts of the 50 other families."

Maha Elmadani lost her father Ali Elmadani.

"When he left this world so too did the light. His death and that of all the Shuhada has left behind a heartache that can never be healed, and an emptiness that can never be filled."  

Temel Atacocugu was shot nine times at Al Noor mosque then took the longest and hardest walk of his life, 200m to an ambulance. But there he saw Aden Ibrahim sitting with his three-year-old son on his lap.

"The paramedics told him his son was dead. There was nothing they could do for him. Suddenly my own pain felt insignificant," said Atacocugu.

The pain is still so raw for so many. There were many tributes, including from the city's mayor, the Governor-General and the Prime Minister.

Jacinda Ardern says March 15 has changed all of us.

"There will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15, much of it will be heartbreaking. But it is never too early or too late for the legacy to be an inclusive nation, one that stands proud of our diversity."

In the words of the survivors, the attack two years ago was caused by racism and ignorance, it was an attack on all of humanity that broke hearts in every race and every religion.

Many acknowledged there are still many changes that need to be made.

"There is a long way to go, there is a lot of work we need to do," said Faisal Sayed.

Sayed says his 17-month-old daughter gave him the strength to stay alive.

"I've got big dreams for my daughter. I secretly want her to be the Prime Minister of New Zealand. But that does not matter. What really matters is will she be able to shine and pursue what she wants without being questioned on her faith, on her race, on her religion and values."

The Muslim community say it's the arms of all New Zealanders around them that's helped the healing.

"Thank you Aotearoa and the team of five million for being our bandage," said Dr Munir.

"Thank you, for never leaving us alone, thank you for always standing with us. Please, continue to stand with us," said Atacocugu.

Just as they stood together on this beautiful bright Autumn day remembering the country's darkest one.