Ardern statement – Saturday morning

More from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (edited) on numbers of deaths, arrests and charges, gun control, ongoing investigations, and support for those affected:

Statement from Jacinda Ardern on Christchurch mass shooting – 9am 16 March

A total now of 49 people have been killed – work is under way to confirm their identities as quickly as possible.

41 people died at Deans Avenue Mosque, 7 at the Linwood Avenue Mosque – and 1 person has since died in hospital.

Over 40 people are being treated for injuries at Christchurch hospital – they have all been identified and those names have been shared with members of the community.

Two of those are in critical condition and this includes a 5-year-old child who has been transported today to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

Three people have been arrested in relation to this event.

One Australian citizen will appear in court today charged with murder.

This individual has travelled around the world with sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand. They were not a resident of Christchurch. In fact they were currently based in Dunedin.

Enquires are ongoing to establish whether the other two were directly involved with this incident.

The fourth person who was arrested yesterday was a member of the public who was in possession of a firearm, but with the intention of assisting police. They have since been released.

None of those apprehended had a criminal history either here, or in Australia. As I said last night, they were not on any watch lists either here, or in Australia.

I want to be very clear that our intelligence community and police are focused on extremism of every kind.

Given global indicators around far right extremism, our intelligence community has been stepping up their investigations in this area.

The individual charged with murder had not come to the attention of the intelligence community nor the police for extremism.

I have asked our agencies this morning to work swiftly on assessing whether there was any activity on social media or otherwise that should have triggered a response. That work is already under way.

“I want to speak specifically about the firearms used in this terrorist act.”

I’m advised that there were five guns used by the primary perpetrator. There were two semi-automatic weapons, and two shotguns. The offender was in possession of a gun licence.

I’m advised that this was acquired of November 2017.

A lever action firearm was also found.

While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.

There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017.

Now is the time for change.

Too late for change in this case, and it will take time to work out what sort of changes will be made, but change looks inevitable.

There are obviously questions being asked of how this person was able to enter the country and undertake this act of terror.

I have instructed ODESC to report to Cabinet on Monday on this sequence of events with a view to strengthening our systems on a range of fronts including but not limited to, firearms, border controls, enhanced information sharing with Australia and any practical reinforcement of our watch list processes.

“I want to come now to what people can expect over the course of the day and beyond.”

The safety of New Zealanders is our highest priority.

New Zealand Police remain on high alert.

Christchurch residents are strongly urged to stay home if possible and stay safe. Please monitor the Police website and social media for further information.

If you see something suspicious then call 111 immediately.

A number of events are being held across the country today and there will be an increased Police presence.

Police have additional patrols out on the streets of Christchurch to reassure the community.

They have flown in 45 additional police staff to Christchurch with a further 80 staff arriving today.

The additional police staffing includes public safety teams, detectives, tactical specialists and intelligence support.

Staff from other DHBs have offered support as required.

There will be additional support provided in Christchurch for mental health and psychosocial needs.


Police are aware of distressing material relating to this event being online and are reminding people it is an offence to distribute objectionable material.

To recap:

Police immediately secured the areas involved and ensured that people were kept safe, including schools and offices being locked down.

Police made arrests swiftly and a man will appear in court this morning.

Defence specialists quickly moved to assist police to make the improvised explosive devices safe.

I want to make special mention of those who are involved in parts of the operation involving disarming devices and undertaking the arrests themselves.

Many of you may have seen the footage of the arrest and I can only describe it as an act of bravery on behalf of all New Zealanders and an act that showed very little regard for their own personal safety.

I’m sure everyone in New Zealand wants to acknowledge the police and particularly the officer who made that arrest yesterday.

I also want to acknowledge ambulance staff who many will have seen acting swiftly under horrific conditions and all medical staff who continue to work with those who are injured.

NZ Defence Force at Burnham Camp yesterday were put on standby to assist police in Christchurch.

Mosques around the country were provided with advice from police to help keep them secure and advised to remain closed. This advice continues as does the police presence at mosques around the country.

The national threat level was raised to high, which triggers a number of actions to help keep people safe, such as increased aviation and border security.

A number of specialist family liaison staff were deployed.

Close liaison has been established with the Muslim community and other key people in Christchurch.

Police and the wider government will be working with leaders and members of the Islamic Community to provide assistance, reassurance and support.

MFAT are acting as a liaison point for foreign governments – consular representation for any foreign nations involved has been provided. At this stage I understand those involved include Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.

MFAT staff are dealing with offers of assistance, and are receiving a significant number of condolence messages.

Deputy Commissioner Maori and Ethnic Services Wally Haumaha has travelled to Christchurch, alongside 15 additional ethnic liaison officers to support the community.

These specialists will work alongside local staff to support the families involved.

They are assisting to repatriate them with their loved ones in a way that is consistent with Muslim beliefs, while taking into account these particular circumstances and obligations to the coroner.

“I want to finish by saying…”

…that while the nation grapples with a form of grief and anger that we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers.

After this media conference I will board a defence force plane and travel to Christchurch. I will have other political leaders with me including the Leader of the Opposition.

As is the entire nation, we are all unified in grieving together.

If anyone needs to speak to someone or if they are feeling distressed I encourage you to call or text 1737. There are extra staff available. That number is available to everyone.”

An 0800 number established to register missing persons – 0800 115019 – and a website, Restoring Family Links (RFL).



  1. Gezza

     /  March 16, 2019

    While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.

    Given prominence on Aljazerra tv news. Protest in Turkey against the attack shown.

    • Gezza

       /  March 16, 2019

      Trump shown commenting, followed by CAIR spokesperson blaming Trump for support / encouragement of white supremacists, noting the mass murderer cited Trump favourably in his manifesto (although he criticised him as a policymaker).

      • High Flying Duck

         /  March 16, 2019

        A lot of people have been quoting Trump’s ‘support’ of white nationalists in part due to his completely misreported comments regarding the Charlottesville riot. This part of the presser is always missed off the reported narrative:

        “You had people and i’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group too.”

        Specific comments from 1:55 into the video, but watch the whole thing and try to see anything offensive in what he says there:

        • Gezza

           /  March 16, 2019

          What you are ignoring is his “other group” with “very fine people” “white supremacists, neo nazis … whatever YOU want to call them??” were avowed white supremacists – one of his target groups for votes. And that whole speech is still tricky trump sucking in votes from white supermacists and those trying to put blacks and liberals in their places.

          From tarrant’s manifesto

          Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?
          As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a
          policy maker and leader? Dear god no.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  March 16, 2019

            Ffs, renewed white identity and common purpose would apply to any European politician. What Lefty drivel.

            • Gezza

               /  March 16, 2019

              That’s not lefty drivel. That’s a white supremacist’s drivel.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 16, 2019

              You can claim black is white and vice versa for as long as you like but you are only fooling yourself.

            • Gezza

               /  March 16, 2019

              His manifesto contains many of the things righties & lefties & libertarians say here. And many obvious truths as well.

            • Gezza

               /  March 16, 2019

              He’s a real mixture of ideologies & the only thing that ties them all together is his desire to kill Muslims to provoke a war by white Europeans to take control of their countries back. Really ironic that he talks endlessly about foreigners invading and taking over the lands they originated from. A white Austalian.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  March 16, 2019

            See the Bellingcat article for “shitposting” definitions re the manifesto comments.
            You are misreading what Trump said.
            Trump specifically singles out the white supremacists and Nazis for condemnation (video 1.55 in), separating them from the protesters simply there to try and stop the taking down of an important historical statue.
            It was the leftist anti-protesters he called the “other group” which included “many fine people”. It isn’t hidden or coded – he is completely explicit in his words.
            While he acknowledged many fine people were among them, he correctly said there were also well armed and violent people who started the disturbance.

  2. Now is the wrong time to promise to change the gun laws. Cindy using this atrocity to get a law change she has wanted for a long time is appalling. It is even worse for Clark.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 16, 2019

    Should we be changing the gun laws before we discover whether the existing ones were broken?

    • NOEL

       /  March 16, 2019

      Alan you will get defenders of the current laws saying they don’t need change.

      In regard to high capacity magazines they will get “experts” to describe how reducing the magazine size don’t change the rate of fire for a proficient shooter.

      This guy wasn’t a proficient shooter is the analysis by ex police who have view the video although they suspect he may have done some practice some where before hand.

      The laws were mocked when the industry was allowed to add a bit of plastic to the back of the pistol grip. Time to tell them to piss off.

      At the end of the day what do you need a 30 round magazine for in any other shooting experience?

      • Duker

         /  March 16, 2019

        You are still in a dream land – ALL MSSA type guns will go., so the magazine problem goes with it.

        • NOEL

           /  March 16, 2019

          You mean all semi automatic type rifles will go along with magazines of more than 5 rounds??
          MSSA is a Cat E rifle. If only that category is removed the problem remains.
          Instructors used to say here is my rifle, and here is my gun!

          • Duker

             /  March 16, 2019

            Whatever. The MSSA that are legal now ,most are barely legal because they have a legal magzine.As the full sized magazines fit the legal guns all the MSSA will go, no matter the category

    • Duker

       /  March 16, 2019

      “whether the existing ones were broken”?

      making the SAR legal but the magazines not legal was the best answer after all. ?

      I was reading about Ireland after the British left and they began their own civil war ( and were even nastier than the Brits, the government shooting prisoners without trial, government troops killing prisoners and tying them up to explosives then detonating …but thats another story) As part of the new gun laws they made possession of a weapon ( which included at home) a capital crime and then extended that to any ammunition as of course rebels would hide their guns away from home. Large numbers were condemned to a firing squad, even if its was ‘sporting weapons’ but a lot of death sentences were commuted for non combatants. Even so 3x the numbers were legally executed by Free state government compared to the British during their earlier 1919-21 conflict.
      yes the Rebel IRA was defeated.

      Posession of a SAR or its large capacity magazine, after an amnesty period, should get a minimum 6 month sentence .

      as for those saying not now . The gun laws have been under review for some time, now its urgent the recommendations are carried out

    • Gezza

       /  March 16, 2019

      More than 20 years after Sir Thomas Thorp recommended a ban on MSSA firearms, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she might follow Australia’s lead in doing so.


      For just $25, anyone can step off a plane in New Zealand and get a firearms licence.

      All they have to do is show documentation to the police, at the airport, that he or she holds a firearms licence in their country of origin.

      No checks are made. The paperwork – which could easily be forged – is taken at face value.

      Nor are there any checks as to why the person wants a firearm. If they say they’re hunting tahr in the South Island, so be it.

      This visitor’s firearm licence is valid for 12 months.

      They can then go into a hunting store, or online, and purchase a military style semi automatic (MSSA) rifle such as an AR-15 – the weapon of choice for mass shootings around the world. Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, San Bernadino.

      And now in New Zealand.

      • Gezza

         /  March 16, 2019

        Also from that article:

        The visitor’s licence loophole highlighted by Perry, who was speaking as an adviser to the Police Association, was one of several examples of how easy it is for dangerous individuals to obtain weapons in New Zealand.

        There’s also no restriction on the amount of ammunition someone can buy, no national register of what firearms belong to which licensed owner.

        An AR-15 can only be sold with a magazine holding no more than seven rounds, to comply with the conditions of the standard A-Category licence. A 16-year-old can get an A-category licence.

        You need an E-category licence, which are much harder to obtain, to buy a MSSA with high-capacity magazines.

        However, Perry told the MPs that anyone – with or without a firearms licence – can simply buy larger “high-capacity” magazines online. Some magazines can hold 15, 20, 30, 75, even 100 rounds – and slot straight into an AR-15.

        MPs seized on the fact it’s a criminal offence to put a high-capacity magazine into an AR-15 without the “E-Cat” licence. But by then, it can be far too late.

  4. Gezza

     /  March 16, 2019

    Now seems like a good time

    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 16, 2019

      Jacinda is made for crisis moments – she oozes empathy and speaks well. Definitely providing a calming presence in the aftermath.

  5. The Consultant

     /  March 16, 2019

    As predictable as the sun rising.

    First I’d be interested in knowing what the cop who interviewed this guy thought, and thinks now in hindsight. Such an interview is mandatory.

    Second I’d be interested in finding out about the two people who would have to act as referees for this guy. Again, mandatory for getting a gun licence in NZ.

    Bumping semi-autos up to the licence standard of pistols would be fine with me. Semi’s are literally a waste of ammo in hunting situations, let alone target shooting. Having said I’m sure – having listened to any number of non-gun-owners and a few anti-gun fanatics in NZ over the years – that such compromises are not what’s wanted here. Only a total, British-style ban, incrementally made over the years, will suffice.

    “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

    Rahm Emanuel.

  6. High Flying Duck

     /  March 16, 2019

    Anyone wanting to know the ins and outs of gun licencing – a tweet thread on it is here:

    • Duker

       /  March 16, 2019

      Wrong. As he held an Australian gun licence he paid $25 and got a NZ one , no questions asked. It would last 12 months. It’s designed to help tourists.

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 16, 2019

    The Herald has a background on him. Belonged to Dunedin gym and gun club for a year or so. Travelled a lot since his father died a few years ago. Grew up in Aus from a good family and seemed a decent guy. No-one spotted his deviance. Not obvious there was any clue for the security services to find before it happened. Until we find out what role others played it looks very lone wolfish.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 16, 2019

      Many people blaming NZ security services for not picking him up, but Aus have a pretty good network and he was never once on their radar.
      A bit premature to say there was a failure at this stage. Seems he was well off the radar and not displaying any tendencies to attract notice.

  8. lurcher1948

     /  March 16, 2019

    I did appreciate Jacinda’s comments:

    “We were not a target because we are a safe harbor for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we’re an enclave for extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things, because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those that share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.

    We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages, and amongst that diversity, we share common values. And the one that we place currency on right now is our compassion and the support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy and secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people that did this.

    You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you.”

    – Jacinda Ardern
    40th Prime Minister of New Zealand
    15 March 2019
    This is how a real prime minister reacts, with grace and dignity

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 16, 2019

      I can’t resist suggesting you try it too, Lurch. 😀