Tauranga's Muslim community is in shock at an active shooter situation unfolding in Christchurch.

Gunmen have opened fire at mosques in Christchurch, with at least six people believed to have been killed and police urging residents to stay indoors.

The mosque has been visited by police officers from Tauranga.

Police asked all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.

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Officers are in place or moving into position outside mosques around the country.

Live coverage: A gunman has opened fire at a mosque in central Christchurch

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

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.

Khan Masum (left), Mohammed Abul Kashem and Rahman Rocky at the Tauranga mosque. Photo / Andrew Warner
Khan Masum (left), Mohammed Abul Kashem and Rahman Rocky at the Tauranga mosque. Photo / Andrew Warner

"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.

Armed police at the Tauranga mosque before an evening prayer session. Photo / Andrew Warner
Armed police at the Tauranga mosque before an evening prayer session. Photo / Andrew Warner

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.

Police speak with members of the Tauranga mosque. Photo / Andrew Warner
Police speak with members of the Tauranga mosque. Photo / Andrew Warner

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."

A former Tauranga woman now living in Christchurch, who did not wish to be named, said "it's pretty terrifying".

"My family is safe we are just staying indoors

Another former Tauranga man now living and working in Christchurch said staff had been asked to stay indoors.

"We've been asked to stay indoors until we get any updates but not on lockdown, people are still able to leave if they want to."

Born and bred Cantabrian Dr Peter Gilling from Tauranga said: ''I suppose it had to come to New Zealand shores at some stage.

''I know that mosque it has been part of in the community for years. But there is an element of Christchurch which is known for its extremist views and if it was going to happen anywhere I'm not surprised it's in Christchurch."

Gilling said he watched CNN on a regular basis and there was a "regular diet" of these things.

"I suppose you get a bit hardened to it by watching the international news feeds but you don't expect it to come to New Zealand.''

Rhonnie Hughes, who moved to Tauranga after the devastating 2011 Christchurch earthquake, said she was urgently trying to contact her two kids in Christchurch.

''This is a horrendous shock.''

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber was in shock this afternoon.

"I'm lost for words. It's a real disaster, I just can't comprehend it. It's just awful."

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless was horrified.

"People using violence against other people, in this country, where we thought we were relatively immune ... I'm just appalled.

"It just makes me determined that there should be zero tolerance for firearm or gun incidents in New Zealand.

"To me, it's a trying time for the residents of Christchurch as a whole, in particular the families and friends of the victims."

Multicultural Tauranga president Ann Kerewaro said she was almost speechless when she first learned the news.

"I was absolutely gobsmacked. I just can't believe someone would go into a mosque and do something like this. It's so shocking and my heart goes out to the victims and their families, " she said.

"This is something that has happens overseas but not in New Zealand. I still can't get my head around it. I'm almost speechless to be frank."

Kerewaro said she was sure there would be an outpouring of grief and offers of support from the Tauranga community given the number of people here originally from Christchurch or possibly had family or friends living there.

"So many people will know someone in Christchurch either directly or indirectly and the ramifications of this tragedy will be huge," she said.

I’m shocked to hear about the incident unfolding in Christchurch. My heart goes out to the families and I stand with the Canterbury community.

Posted by Simon Bridges on Thursday, 14 March 2019

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, leader of the National Party, condemned the Christchurch attacks and expresses condolences to the people of Canterbury.

"Details are still emerging but the attacks are shocking.

"We stand with and support the New Zealand Islamic community. No one in this country should live in fear, no matter their race or religion, their politics or their beliefs.

"My thoughts, and the thoughts of the National Party are with the victims of today's attacks, along with their families and friends. My heart goes out to all of you."

Clayton Mitchell, Tauranga-based NZ First MP, said on Twitter: "I'm in shock! This is not NZ? I'm lost for words! Armed gunmen shooting people in a mosque is sickening. My heart goes out to all the families affected by this horrific event."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said: "Absolutely devastated to hear about the despicable hate crime carried out in Christchurch this afternoon. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and all New Zealanders at this time."

National MP for Rotorua Todd McLay said he was shocked and horrified when he heard the news.

"It appears this is a hate crime that has no place in New Zealand. I think every New Zealander and visitor to our country will be appalled and saddened.

"People should look after themselves their families as this is a great tragedy for the country."

Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey, based in Rotorua, said he was absolutely gutted to see so much hatred present in society towards Muslims.

"I just don't understand it...This is absolutely unacceptable."

He wanted to reinforce that Rotorua's Muslim community were supported by all those in Rotorua.

"I am looking forward to getting in touch very soon with the community and just being with them and send them a message that we aren't all like that.

"Our hearts are 100 per cent with them at this time. "

Otumoetai College deputy principal Bruce Farthing said he had heard of the news.

"I was in that exact location about a week ago," he said.

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said it was a crime against humanity and society.

The college had former students in Christchurch and ''it is absolutely shocking not just for our students''.

"My heart goes out and we feel for all the families and relatives, friends and loved ones either killed or injured in these circumstances.

"My own response when I heard was an awareness as a school of how vulnerable we are. We watch from a distance what happens in the United States and thankfully it hasn't happened in schools in New Zealand and I think we should be very grateful for that."

"But I do think there is an inevitability at some stage somewhere in New Zealand similar attacks will happen it's just one of those things. The wider Tauranga Boys community would like to express our sympahty and condolences for those that have been impacted with the loss of loved ones."

Former John Paul College student Cian Hinton moved to Christchurch this year to begin university and was currently in lockdown in the hall.

"As far as I know the entire campus, including accommodation, is still in lockdown but I haven't heard of anything happening in the vicinity.

"Most of the information has been from online as the staff also seem to be mostly in the dark on the situation."

Hinton said he has been receiving a lot of messages from friends.

"I had notified my family pretty early on about it so they seem to be calm, mostly."

Kell Leeman of a Tauranga-based Facebook page originally set up to offer accommodation to Christchurch quake victims has posted a plea for people not to share the gunman's video.

She said: "This is the time to show our support - by showing respect to those affected by this tragedy.

"Kia Kaha Christchurch. We cry for you - and with you."

Bay of Plenty Sikh Society secretary Lehmber Singh said: "It's very sad and shocking. For this to happen in New Zealand is unbelievable. It's a very dark day for New Zealand and every New Zealander.

"Before this incident lots of people from overseas used to say to me 'you're so lucky' not to have the terrible mass shootings we keep hearing about in the US and other parts of the world. Clearly that won't be happening anymore."

Singh urged everyone to come together to support the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch.

"If anyone from Christchurch's Muslim community needs our help, they only have to contact me," he said.