"This is not New Zealand and this is not New Zealanders. This hatred must not be allowed to win in this peaceful country.''

Those were the words from Suhil Musa, Imam for the Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust, after a horror attack on two mosques in Christchurch that left what police described as "a significant number of people" dead.

Police are keeping an eye on Islamic centres in Northland and elsewhere across the country in the wake of yesterday's deadly attacks. Four people have been arrested in relation to the attacks - including an Australian national - but late yesterday police were not sure if anybody else was involved in the attacks.

A number of car bombs were also found and deactivated. Late yesterday, police also said they could not be certain that the danger was over.

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Shortly after the attack, Northland police contacted Muslim leaders in the region assuring them police would be doing everything they could to protect the community in Northland.

Within minutes of the shootings, police were seen at the Northland Islamic Centre, in Whangārei, and Musa said the police response had been amazing.

Suhil Musa, Imam for the Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust, says hatred should not be allowed to triumph over peace after yesterday's deadly Christchurch mosque shootings.
Suhil Musa, Imam for the Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust, says hatred should not be allowed to triumph over peace after yesterday's deadly Christchurch mosque shootings.

Musa said within minutes of news of the shootings he was contacted by many friends and colleagues - Māori, Pakeha, Muslim and non-Muslim - who all passed on their thoughts and condolences. Altogether, 28 schools in Christchurch were put into lockdown after the shootings.

''These people were at their prayers, in peace, praying at their mosque. This should not be happening in a place of worship ... it should not be happening anywhere,'' Musa said.

A man rests on the ground as he speaks on his mobile phone across the road from the mosque in central Christchurch. Photo / AP
A man rests on the ground as he speaks on his mobile phone across the road from the mosque in central Christchurch. Photo / AP

''They were expressing their religious freedom and one of the reasons many are in New Zealand is that we have that religious freedom here.''

He agreed with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that this was a dark day for the country.

''I saw the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on TV saying this is a dark day and that this has no place in New Zealand and I agree. It's a very sad day for our Muslim community and the whole of New Zealand,'' Musa said.

''This doesn't only affect our community. It affects everybody. There have been children locked in school while this is happening and as a parent I can only image the fear those children and their parents were going through.

"This is not New Zealand and this is not New Zealanders. This hatred must not be allowed to win in this peaceful country.''

Musa said New Zealand is a place of peace and tolerance and the shootings were not the New Zealand he knows and loves.

He said while the odd "ignorant person" who did not understand the religion might say the odd comment, there was no widespread anti-Muslim sentiment that he was aware off, either in Northland or the rest of the country.

''I have been here since 2004 [from Palestine] and neither myself or my family have seen anything like that. People here are very accepting and supportive and we have felt nothing but welcomed in New Zealand.''

Musa said the police had been wonderful with the community after the shootings, sharing knowledge and assuring them that they would do all they could to help protect them, but he did not think - and he certainly hoped that - nothing similar would happen here.

''But I never thought that this would happen anywhere in New Zealand. This is such a wonderful country and I find it so hard to believe that it has [happened].''

Some in the Muslim community had come to New Zealand to escape violence or persecution in their homelands.

''We really appreciate what the police are doing and their support for our community and for the thoughts and prayers from all New Zealanders at this time,'' Musa said.

He said the deaths would hit all New Zealanders hard.

''My thoughts are also with our Muslim community in Christchurch and the wider Christchurch community who will all be hurt by this despicable act and we are really, really thankful that the rest of the country is supporting us, too.''

He said police told Northland Muslims not to go to their usual places of worship last night as a precaution.

A Kerikeri church opened its doors last night to an interfaith gathering for anyone who wanted to offer prayers to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand's Muslim community, as well as those who just wanted to reflect on Friday's events.

The gathering was at Cornerstone/Whare Karakia o Manako at the corner of the Heritage Bypass.