Jacinda Ardern dons headscarf, acknowledges Fijian March 15 victims in mosque visit

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged the death of "Fiji's own sons" in the Christchurch massacre last year, during a trip to a Fijian mosque.

The Prime Minister, donning a hijab as she did following the March 15 shootings, visited Lautoka Mosque in the western Fijian centre of Lautoka on Thursday, saying it was a privilege to be in the house of prayer. 

"As we approach the first anniversary of the terror attack in Christchurch against New Zealand's Muslim community, we are filled with deep emotion. I want to remember Fiji's own sons killed in this tragedy," she said in a speech. 

Three Fijians were among the 51 killed on what has been called New Zealand's darkest day. They were Imam Hafiz Musa Patel - the imam at the Lautoko Jame Masjid for 25 years - Ashraf Ali Razat and Ashraf Ali.

"They were yours. And now they are part of us. Our love goes out to their family and friends, and to all of you, their Muslim brothers and sisters who have been left with painful memories to this day."

She acknowledged Patel's wife, saying she remembers meeting her in the days after the attacks. 

"I still remember talking with you that day as you desperately looked for your husband, your imam, I remember talking with you as you retraced your steps and feeling pained as I handed you over to a member of the Red Cross to continue to support you and to assist you," she said.

"In your darkest of hours I can tell you that I will never forget that grief I saw that day."

Ardern said the "in the face of hate and violence" the Muslim community opened their hearts for everyone when they could have chosen to express pain and anger. 

"Today, I want to talk about our commitment to working to ensure these attacks never happen again. Our commitment to eradicate the underlying drivers and ideology of such cowardly attacks. Our commitment to promoting the values that Fiji and New Zealand share - those of kindness and compassion."

Ardern noted the steps the New Zealand Government had taken following the attacks, mentioning the gun reforms which banned military-style semi-automatic weapons, as well as pushing for the Christchurch Call to fight online extremism.

The Prime Minister previously met with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on her trip to the Pacific Island nation this week. She will next travel to Australia to speak with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.