Armed police stood guard at a Tauranga mosque this evening and prayer sessions at Tauranga mosques were cancelled.

Leaders at Tauranga Mosque and Gurudwara Kalgidhar Sahib Tauranga mosque said there would be no prayer sessions or gatherings at either temple.

Rahman Rocky, who attended Tauranga Mosque, was shocked to hear reports of the shooting when the Bay of Plenty Times spoke to him soon after the news broke.

"I never thought it could happen here ... I'm safe, you're safe."


He said Friday was a particularly busy time when many people visited the mosque to pray.

"We come here to pray. We don't do any harm to others."

Rocky said he felt safer at Tauranga Mosque than in mosques in his home country, Bangladesh.

Senior Sergeant Rob Glencross attended Tauranga Mosque following the reported shootings in Christchurch.

He said the police were there to offer reassurance and keeping the community safe.

Mohammed Abdul Kashem, treasurer of Tauranga Mosque, said nothing like this had happened in the 18 years he had been in New Zealand.

He did not know if any security measures would be taken at this point and said a discussion with the community would need to take place.

Tauranga local Farzana Akter, who is of the Muslim religion, said through tears the shooting terrified her as her father went to the Tauranga mosque five times a day for prayer.


"It could have happened anywhere."

She said the mosque was a family environment and Friday afternoon prayer could be compared to Sunday church in the Christian religion.

"People leave work early or leave events for Friday prayer, the mosque would have been full of people."

She said she was in absolute shock when she heard the news.

"I've never even had a religious hate comment here in New Zealand."