The wife of a heart doctor missing and presumed dead in the Christchurch terror attacks says they moved to New Zealand from Palestine because they wanted a better future.

Amjad Hamid hasn't been seen since a gunman began shooting worshippers at two city mosques yesterday afternoon, and his family believe the Hawera Hospital doctor is dead.

Hamid's wife Hanan said she and her husband emigrated to Christchurch 23 years ago.

Amjad Hamid, who is missing presumed dead in the Christchurch mosque shootings. Photo / Supplied
Amjad Hamid, who is missing presumed dead in the Christchurch mosque shootings. Photo / Supplied

"It's terrible ... we were hoping to find a better future for us and for the children we were planning to have."

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She described her 57-year-old husband as a "very kind man", but struggled to say more.

"It's hard to talk about him."

The elder of the couple's two sons, 22-year-old Husam Hamid, said family had checked hospitals and with police but there had been no sign of his dad since the mass shootings began.

Amjad Hamid was known to go to the mosque to pray on Fridays.

"At first I thought he went to the Linwood mosque but he was most likely to have been in the Deans Ave mosque as he mostly goes to that one ... we are presuming that he is dead, but we don't know."

According to his LinkedIn profile, Hamid was a consultant in cardiorespiratory integrated specialist services at Canterbury District Health Board for 20 years, but his son said he had recently taken up a role in cardiology at Hawera Hospital in south Taranaki.

He rotated three weeks working at the hospital with three weeks at his Christchurch home, Husam Hamid said.

Family had gathered to support each other, but it was tough.

"This is meant to be a safe country. New Zealand is changing forever."

His mother was "struggling", he said.

"My mum, she loves him so much."

Youngest son, Mohammed Hamid, 20, said they had checked everywhere but his dad couldn't be found.

"We believe he's dead."

He told the Herald he only wanted to say one thing about his father and what had happened yesterday.

"I just really loved my dad."