New Zealand will give nothing to the Australian man accused of shooting dead 50 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques, not even a name, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed.

Ardern led condolences from political leaders in Parliament today in a special sitting which began with Speaker Trevor Mallard leading religious leaders of all faiths into the debating chamber.

Before the usual parliamentary prayer, Imam Nizam ul Haq Thanvi led a prayer in Arabic, translated into English by Imam Tahir Nawaz.

"Oh Lord, make this day a source of light for this country and the entire world—the light which unites us all as one family," it said.


Ardern told Parliament the Australian man accused of carrying out the atrocity was seeking notoriety.

"That is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.

"Speak the names of those who were lost, rather than name of the man who took them.

He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name," she said.

"One of the roles I never anticipated having, and hoped never to have, is to voice the grief of a nation. At this time, it has been second only to securing the care of those affected, and the safety of everyone."

Ardern spoke directly to the affected families.

"We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage. We can, and we will, surround you with aroha, manaakitanga and all that makes us, us."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters praised Ardern's leadership through the tragedy as calm and comforting.

"Her clarity, empathy, and unifying leadership is helping to guide the country through this massive test of our resolve. We will follow that example," Peters told the House.

He said the "sickening scourge of terrorism" was imported to Christchurch and was the work of a coward.

"Friday, 15 March 2019 is the day everything changed in our country, a day when someone from outside our shores attempted to terrorise us and tear us apart. That, we believe, was his objective, and he has failed.

"His creed, like extremists' anywhere and everywhere, seeks only to destroy. It's evil and it's destructive. "


National Party leader Simon Bridges said no one could have imagined the horror about to be unleashed when they woke on March 15.

"As mums and dads, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters in Christchurch went to work or to school or to prayer, none of them thought for a moment that they would return home that night changed for ever."

Bridges said that for some of the victims, New Zealand had been their home for a long time.

"For some, New Zealand was somewhere they found solace in a world full of problems. New Zealand was for them a new, a fresh, opportunity: the chance to live in a country which embraced tolerance, respect, compassion, opportunity, and freedom to be who you want to be.

"It was for them, as it is for us, the best little country in the world. We let them down, and for that we are sorry."

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said the victims were targeted when they were praying, "the most profoundly peaceful state of harmony and compassion that a human can be in".

"You were anchored in the collective love of your community, the collective practice of your sacred traditions under the shelter of your sacred place of worship. Your families have been ripped apart, your hearts broken, your wairua destroyed," she told the House.

She said New Zealand must never again ignore or contribute to anti-Islamic hatred as part of the rise of white supremacy and extreme white-right ideology.

"I know the Muslim community tried to tell us these truths of the dangers that you faced and felt. We did not protect you. We will do better."

Act leader David Seymour said New Zealand stood in solidarity with all Muslims.
He disagreed the country had changed forever, saying that was the terrorist's objective.

"Changing New Zealand dishonours the victims by letting him win."

Parliament was adjourned after the tributes.

It will sit again tomorrow for MPs' statements then will adjourn until next Tuesday.