Muslim students are being escorted on trips to the supermarket and university because they are too scared to leave their homes for fear of being attacked or abused.

While most New Zealanders have united in support of the Muslim community, the attacks at Christchurch's mosques have left some fearful they too could become targets.

On Sunday two Muslim sisters were told to "go back to your f***ing country" in an ugly incident at Mt Albert train station. Since telling their story in the Herald they say they have been contacted by many others who have also experienced racial abuse and, since Friday's mosque shootings, feel even more unsafe when wearing their hijab.

Since then social media and newspapers, both here and internationally, have been full of stories of the country uniting rather than letting the attack divide it.

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Vigils have seen thousands turn out to pay their respects and show support for the Muslim community while flowers and messages have been left outside Islamic centres and mosques nationwide. Millions of dollars have been raised for the grieving families.

Minister for the NZ Security Service Andrew Little revealed yesterday that spies had been forming a plan to tackle far-right extremism since mid 2018.

But, that was of little comfort to Muslims students' associations at Auckland, Otago and Christchurch universities who said many of their female members who wore the hijab had reported feeling scared and vulnerable after the shooting.

"I know a lot of female students have decided not to come to university in the next few days out of fear," Auckland University Muslim Students' Association Sohail Din said.

Otago University Muslim Students' Association vice-president Naser Tamiri said some Dunedin female students were now afraid even to go to the supermarket in the hijab.

Sisters Iqra, 21, and Asma, 18, say Friday's mosque attack and the abuse they faced has left their friends more afraid of wearing the hijab. Photo / Doug Sherring
Sisters Iqra, 21, and Asma, 18, say Friday's mosque attack and the abuse they faced has left their friends more afraid of wearing the hijab. Photo / Doug Sherring

In Christchurch, women had also reported being too afraid to go out in their hijab so the Student Volunteer Army, founded after the earthquakes in 2011, had begun to drive female Muslim students to supermarkets and other places.

President of the group's Canterbury University chapter Sati Ravichandiren said a lot of those students felt "targeted" and "scared".

"We found out there has been a real demand for a lot of students who are still quite uncertain about leaving their homes. They are not getting groceries, they are not getting to meet-ups in the city with the community, they are not getting to hospital," he said.

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One of the Muslim sisters verbally attacked at the train station, Iqra, said they had been overwhelmed by the messages of support. Friends told her they felt even more unsafe and uncomfortable wearing their hijab since Friday's attack but speaking out had emboldened others to report abuse instead of just ignoring it.

President of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand Tahir Nawaz said most of the community had a positive outlook, bolstered by the huge outpouring of support.

But, he was aware the shootings had left some groups fearful of further attacks and abuse.

"The ones who are born here, the ones who attend the local schools, the ones who are part of the real community of Kiwi Muslims are definitely in shock. It's a national fear - is it going to happen here in this city, is it going to be happening in our schools?"

President of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, Tahir Nawaz, at Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
President of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, Tahir Nawaz, at Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

Some of the women who chose to wear the hijab were also questioning, "are they going to be victimised, are they going to be attacked?"

But, Nawaz said, most of the community believed that what was one of the darkest days in New Zealand history would also "unite all of us as one family".

"We got support from all the religious communities – churches, synagogue, temples, you name it," he said.

"I think we'll have a stronger bond and we'll be stronger as one nation."

Nawaz discouraged women from avoiding wearing their hijab.

"We have to stay as a community, as we were before. This will give a positive message that, no, we're not scared about what's happened, we are not afraid by terrorist acts.

"We are continuing as normal and we are stronger and our communities are coming more together. It will make a better New Zealand, I would say."

Little said the country's spy agency had begun work scoping out the threat from far-right extremism and a plan to tackle it in mid-2018.

"They were close to concluding this work. It was almost complete," he said.

"I wasn't concerned until now at the pace at which they were going."

Little said leads and tips which raised concerns linked to far-right extremism had been followed up by the NZSIS during that time.

The attack had also prompted the Human Right's Foundation, along with the Muslim community, to set up the Report Islamophobia website to allow people to share their experiences of racism and support each other.

How can you help?

• Nawaz encouraged people to go and visit their Muslim neighbours and continue to visit the community centres.

• Iqra urged people to talk to their families about racism as well as step in to stop it if they saw a confrontation.