A man whose wife was gunned down by mass murderer Brenton Tarrant says the most important thing about today's shock guilty plea is forgiveness.

This morning Tarrant - a 29-year-old Australian - pleaded guilty to 51 murder charges.

He also admitted 40 charges of attempted murder relating to the two attacks at Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15 last year - and pleaded guilty to one charge of engaging in a terrorist act laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Farid Ahmed has penned a book in tribute of his slain wife Husna. She and 50 others were killed in the March 15 terror attack. Photo / supplied
Farid Ahmed has penned a book in tribute of his slain wife Husna. She and 50 others were killed in the March 15 terror attack. Photo / supplied

His pleas were recorded in a hastily-arranged hearing in the High Court at Christchurch.

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The Herald was one of only a handful of media organisations allowed in the courtroom.

One of the women Tarrant admitted shooting to death was Husna Ahmed.

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The 44-year-old mother-of-one was killed as she ran back into the Al Noor mosque to
find her husband Farid, who uses a wheelchair.

Before that she had guided the women and children to safety before running back in to help others.

Days after the attack, Farid Ahmed stunned the world by forgiving his wife's killer.

Today he reiterated that message.

"It is good there will be no trial… the emotional pathway will be reduced for some
people," he said.

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"It will save them from going to court.

"I think he [Tarrant] has taken the right direction - it is good that he has realised that he has done something wrong."

Farid Ahmed said he stuck by "every word" he said about the gunman on March 18 last year, as he waited at home for his wife's body to be returned to him.

"Within 24 hours I forgave him… that I loved him as my human brother but I did not support what he had done," he said today.

"I am sticking to that - I still love him, he is still my brother.

"I think he has done the right thing, good on him."

Farid Ahmed survived the March 15 terror attack. Photo / NZ Herald
Farid Ahmed survived the March 15 terror attack. Photo / NZ Herald

Farid Ahmed said he still prayed for Tarrant.

"I pray that my God guides him in the right direction," he said.

"He is still young and whatever life he has left I pray that he will be good, I pray that he will not have a future of killing but a future of saving people.

"I personally try to see the good things in all of us - there is a good side and a bad side within each of us that we have to deal with every day.

"Some of us are strong and some of us are weak and the weak ones need our prayers, our encouragement.

"I believe each and every person has the potential to become a good person, a great person."

Farid Ahmed had a final message for the killer.

"I wish him well," he said.

"And I wish all the victims' families well. I hope this gives some relief to them.

"I pray for everyone to have peace."

Omar Nabi, whose father Haji Daoud Nabi was killed in the attack, said he learned of the guilty plea just as he was about to go into prayer.

"It's about time. His plea should have been earlier but it's good he's changed his mind. And good to have it done," he said.

"There shouldn't have been a trial anyway. At the end of the day the proof's in the pudding and he was caught red-handed, it speaks for itself."

Omar Nabi with a photograph of his father, Haji, who was killed in the Christchurch massacre. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Omar Nabi with a photograph of his father, Haji, who was killed in the Christchurch massacre. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Nabi said he was doing his best to forgive as his religion taught, although it was difficult.

"I'm the same as 50 other families, the first thing on their mind will be to forgive this man because he was led astray.

"But of course it's in our nature that if someone hurts your father, your mother, your brother… well. But I'm trying to have peace and harmony."

It might be easier to forgive after sentencing, Nabi said, and when it was clear the man would serve his time and get his punishment.

"And I know that God will give him his own punishment. Just like on earth, you are punished, and when you die your soul will be tried."

Survivor Hisham Alzarzour, who was shot multiple times by Tarrant, reacted quietly to the news.

He had been planning on attending the trial.

"It is good... it is good that he has pleaded guilty," he said. "It is very good there will be no trial."

Alzarzour's wife Susan was almost speechless at the news.

"It is really good news... ," she said.