Terrified mosque-goers who fled a mass shooting in Christchurch told a neighbour they saw a uniform-clad gunman with "a lot of magazines strapped to his legs".

Oakford Close resident Robert Weatherhead has taken in about 13 men and a boy aged about 3 after they escaped from Al Noor Mosque.

Earlier, he helped three people who had been shot at the mosque.

Police hold a suspect to the ground following a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch. Photo / Supplied still from video credit: Mary Outram
Police hold a suspect to the ground following a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch. Photo / Supplied still from video credit: Mary Outram

"One man had been shot twice - once in the abdomen and once in the shoulder ... he was conscious."

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The injured had been taken to hospital and he was comforting those who remained at the house, where police had told people to stay put.

No-one wanted to talk to the Herald but Weatherhead said they had told him about the shooting.

They had seen one gunman, a white man aged in his 30s or 40s and who had a lot of magazines strapped to his legs, Weatherhead said.

"He was in a uniform but I haven't been able to find out what kind. He had a vest on as well."

A neighbour had taken in a boy aged between 3 and 6 whose parent was injured in the incident, Weatherhead said.

Weatherhead described hearing the shooting unfold.

"There were a lot of bullets. I heard at least 30 or 40 shots ... it was [in my opinion] a heavy semi-automatic or automatic machine gun."