The case of the Australian accused of the Christchurch mosque shootings returns to court tomorrow on the five-month anniversary of the massacre.

But a judge has excused Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, from attending the High Court case review hearing in Christchurch's Justice Precinct.

The alleged killer faces 51 charges of murder and 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.


The charges relate to the killing of 51 Muslims at Masjid Al Noor and the Linwood Islamic Centre during Friday prayer on March 15.

The trial, which could take 6-12 weeks, has been scheduled to begin on May 4 next year.

The accused was due to appear on screens from Auckland's Paremoremo Prison via audio visual link at 10am tomorrow.

But his Auckland-based defence lawyers Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson told Justice Cameron Mander that they do not require him to be present at the hearing. The accused did not seek to be in attendance either, and the Crown did not oppose his absence.

"Because of the nature of the hearing, which it is anticipated will be of short duration and limited to legal argument, his attendance has been excused," Justice Mander explained in a minute released this afternoon.

"Such a course is often adopted in such situations where the defendant waives his right to attend and counsel do not require their client to be present, particularly so where the defendant is the subject of a custodial remand."

It is expected that Justice Mander will hear a defence application under the Criminal Disclosure Act.

Although many survivors and victims' families are still overseas on the pilgrimage to Hajj, bankrolled by the Saudi king, there are around 80 seats reserved for them in the public gallery for the hearing.


Justice Mander earlier declined applications by the media to film, take photographs and record audio.

A large domestic and international press contingent is again expected, with an overflow room reserved for extra journalist with an audio visual link to the courtroom.

Legally-trained cultural advisers will be on hand to help explain to the victims – who speak 10-15 languages between them all – what happens in court.

And even though the alleged shooter won't physically be appearing, there will also be a heavy security presence, including armed police both inside and outside the courthouse.

At the last appearance in June, where the court heard the accused was assessed as being mentally fit to stand trial, a fracas broke out when Rodrick Wayne Woods, 33, played "Nazi music" and made racist remarks to victims outside court.

Woods said they needed to "get over it" and that "white supremacists own the land".

Abdul Aziz, hailed as a hero on March 15 after chasing away the gunman from Linwood Mosque, approached Woods and told him to get away.

Police and security staff intervened.

Woods was arrested and charged with behaving in an offensive manner.

He was later convicted and fined $750.