Less than 24 hours after members of Christchurch's Muslim community were gunned down while praying, some followers woke up, put on their boots and headed to the meat works.

A number of Muslim workers at South Pacific Meats Malvern near Burnham affected by the terrorist attacks on Friday still opted to work on Saturday.

Affco general manager Nigel Stevens said about four staff members had chosen to take time off work, while others preferred to carry on surrounded by their friends and colleagues.

He estimated about 16 of the plant's 200 workers had been directly impacted by the shootings.


None of the workers at the sheep and beef processing plant had been killed, but two had been praying at the mosque when the attacks happened and others had friends and relatives who had either been killed or injured.

Management tried to make contact with Muslim staff on Friday night and also met with workers who opted to go to work on Saturday to tell them they didn't need to be there and to offer counselling for those who wanted it.

Other non-Muslim workers had also been shocked by the events and had taken leave.

"All of our workers have been impacted differently by it - different circumstances. Some have been close to it and some not at all close to it. So we've wanted to help them all individually the best we can," Stevens said.

He said while it showed admirable work ethic to be at work on Saturday, it was not what the company encouraged or wanted.

"If anything we would rather they took the time off that they needed to be with their friends and family. As I said, there was a whole range of ways people were impacted and people respond differently in different ways, and some of them wanted to be there."

Stevens said the company had been proactive in seeing how they could help staff and expected there would be some periods in the coming day where the plant would not be operating to allow people to attend funerals.

New Zealand Meat Workers and Delegated Trades Union director of organising Darien Fenton said the Muslim workers were unlikely to be union members due to the company's stance on workers' joining.


"I understand they normally work on Saturdays so the obligation to turn up would have been strong. If Halal workers don't show up, the rest of the plant doesn't or can't operate. This would show a sense of obligation not only to their job, but also to other workers, who if the Halal workers didn't show would have had no work either," Fenton said.

The NZMWU represented hundreds of Halal and Muslim workers at other meat plants around the country and Fenton said it would make sure these workers got any support they needed in the coming days.

"Muslim/Halal workers are a critical part of our export meat industry and valued members of the Meat Workers Union community.

"You can expect the Meat Workers Union to stand with our members and their families who are Muslim in whatever way we can."