• 49 confirmed dead in terrorist shootings at two Christchurch mosques
• 41 killed at mosque near Hagley Park, seven at Linwood, and one died in hospital
• More than 40 people were hospitalised with a range of injuries, including a critically hurt 5-year-old boy flown to Starship
•Shooter had five weapons including two semi-automatic guns - and PM Jacinda Ardern says: 'Our gun laws will change'

Tauranga Mosque had a solemn atmosphere this morning.

People came and went, dropping off flowers and messages of support.


All people - from families to individuals - took a moment to stand, pay their respects and take in the flowers and cards that lined the fence of the locked mosque.

One message read "United we stand with you" and candles stood flickering on a nook on the fence.

A Tauranga mother, who did not want to be named, bought her two young children to Tauranga Mosque on Saturday morning.

The trio crouched by the flowers laid out in front of the mosque, hugging each other after laying flowers at the fence.

The mother said the actions of those people who caused the Christchurch tragedy did not reflect New Zealanders.

"It's important for the Muslim community to know that New Zealanders don't think or feel that way."

"I came down because I wanted to show Muslims that we support them and that they should feel loved."

Her 3-year-old daughter laid some flowers at the fence.

"She probably doesn't really understand what's happening - which is a good thing."

Jason and Nina Palmer brought their son Christian along to the mosque on Saturday morning.

"We felt compelled to show our respects," Jason Palmer said.

He said it had been awful to follow the news and see the death toll rise from six to nearly 50.

Nina had family in Christchurch and received a call from her mother asking if she had heard the news yesterday.

She said her father usually did the school pick up and had been affected by the lockdown.

She thought the shooting would knock back Christchurch - a city that had already been through so much.

"We bounced back from the earthquakes, and now this happens ... it's a tragic set-back."

Amit Lal said he struggled to express how he felt about the situation.

"I am out of words to say. What can you say?"

"Nature caused the earthquakes but this is mankind."

He was at home mowing lawns when his mother called from Fiji and asked if he had heard the news.

"She said a shooting had happened in Christchurch and I said, 'what!?'"

He closely followed the developments on his computer and television before he went to work that evening.

He said the shooting would change how the entire world perceived New Zealand.

He distantly knew someone who had been injured during the attack and was now in hospital in Christchurch.

He said family and community support would be crucial for those who were directly affected in Christchurch

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said flags on all public buildings in the area were on half mast to mark a country in mourning, on the direction of the Prime Minister.

The New Zealand flag on Elizabeth St is flying at half mast. Photo / Andrew Warner
The New Zealand flag on Elizabeth St is flying at half mast. Photo / Andrew Warner

He contacted the Christchurch Mayor and Deputy Mayor yesterday on behalf of the people of Tauranga to express their shock and let the people of Christchurch know that Tauranga is thinking of them.

National Party leader and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges was set to fly to Christchurch with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardner when he spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times.

He was in Tauranga when he received word of the shootings.

"I was very shocked ... as it all unfolded, it became more and more clear just how horrific it was."

He called for unity throughout the country in the wake of the tragedy and called for politics to be kept out of it.

"We need to extend love and compassion to people across the country."

He will be visiting Tauranga Mosque in the next week to "show solidarity".

"This kind of thing should never happen ... we believe in freedom."

He said that the time for "difficult questions" would come but now was the time to support those affected.

Sky Sargent and Rachael Heke came to the mosque to lay flowers and pay their respects.

They were at home when they heard the news.

"We saw it online, and we were shocked - we couldn't believe it."

Sargent said the tragedy was "really sad" and it did not reflect New Zealand.

"This is our home, and this is not us."

Bay of Plenty National MP Todd Muller visited the Tauranga Mosque with his daughter Ameilia, 10, to place flowers along with many others this morning.

Muller was visibly emotional as he spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times about his reaction to the tragedy.

"I'm still deeply numbed ... it cracks our innocence as a country."

He had been with National Party leader Simon Bridges in Tauranga yesterday when he found out about the events unfolding in Christchurch.

Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble said there was extra security at the terminal.

"We have been given no directive to do that, we have just done it," he said.

Dumble said he was aware of only one return flight to Tauranga from Christchurch that had been affected.

People who had arrived into the Tauranga Airport today appeared to be just a "little less bubbly than normal", he said.

"It is pretty out there what has happened."

Te Puke Diner owner John Shrestha said he had chosen to close the doors to the on Jellicoe St diner today to mourn the loss of those who lost their lives in the Christchurch tragedy.

"We are Christian, and we feel like it is better to pray," he said. "Life can be very uncertain, and this is just our tribute, we can't do more than that."

Shrestha said it was shocking news to hear of the number of lives lost yesterday.

"I never thought those kinds of things would happen in New Zealand where there is lots of harmony and peace," he said.

"No matter your religion, it is about mankind. It is about love and humanity. You can't buy the love and peace, but you can buy guns."

Tauranga schools have shared links on their individual Facebook pages to help parents address what happened in Christchurch with their children.

Matt Simeon of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association said as a father he felt it was important for parents to know how to help their children work through the tragedy if they were starting to ask questions about what happened.

"I have told my son all of the right people were there at the right time."

The principal of Pillans Point School said his staff would have a morning briefing on Monday to address how they would handle the situation.

However, he was wary of reigniting some of the emotions. "There has to be a balance," he said.

"But there does seem to be a time to slow down and make sure our systems and procedures are all known by our children, our community and our staff."

Simeon said he had offered support to some of his staff who had family in Christchurch, some who worked in the hospital and others who were at Hagley Park at the time of the tragic shooting.

"It was a tough day for those people who have loved ones there. Everyone deserves the right to be free and safe in this country," he said. "My thoughts go out to all of the families affected."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and his daughter Ameilia, 10,. Photo / Andrew Warner
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and his daughter Ameilia, 10,. Photo / Andrew Warner