Remembrance service held in New Zealand for 50 victims of Christchurch terror attack

Members of the Christchurch Muslim community read the names of the dead during the service. Credit: AP

A national remembrance service has been held in New Zealand to commemorate those who died in two mosque shootings in Christchurch two weeks ago.

A man who survived the mosque attacks told a crowd of about 20,000 people on Friday that he forgives the gunman.

Jacinda Ardern embraces a member of the Muslim community following the national remembrance service. Credit: New Zealand government/Mark Tantrum/AP

“I don’t want to have a heart that is boiling like a volcano,” Farid Ahmed said.

“A volcano has anger, fury, rage.

"It doesn’t have peace.

"It has hatred.

"It burns itself within, and also it burns the surroundings.

"I don’t want to have a heart like this.”

Mosque shooting survivor Farid Ahmed Credit: Mark Tantrum/New Zealand Government via AP

The name of Mr Ahmed’s wife, Husna Ahmed, was among the names of the 50 killed in the attack read out by members of the Muslim community during a solemn part of the service.

It was the third major memorial held in Christchurch since the March 15 shootings of worshippers who were inside the two mosques for Friday prayers.

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder over the attacks.

The latest memorial service was a more formal occasion, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other foreign dignitaries attending.

Mr Morrison later told reporters the service “was a thing of absolute beauty”.

New Zealand’s police put on a show of force, closing down nearby streets and patrolling the park with semi-automatic weapons.

But the atmosphere was relaxed during the 90-minute commemoration held on a sunny morning in Hagley Park.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who wore an indigenous Maori cloak, said the world had been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism which must end.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison following the national remembrance service Credit: AP

She said her country had learned the stories of those affected by the attacks.

“They were stories of bravery.

"They were stories of those who were born here, grew up here, or who had made New Zealand their home.

"Who had sought refuge, or sought a better life for themselves or their families,” she said.

“These stories, they now form part of our collective memories.

"They will remain with us forever.

"They are us.”

The featured musical guest was British singer Yusuf Islam, also known as Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam in 1977.

New Zealanders as the national anthem is sung during the national remembrance service Credit: AP

“We learn about things through their opposites,” the singer said.

“And it’s through opposites like this, the evilness of that act and what drove it, we find its opposite, which is the love and kindness and unity that has sprung up right here in New Zealand.”

A particularly poignant moment came when a girl named Salma, the daughter of slain worshipper Ashraf El-Moursy Ragheb, briefly got up on stage to remember her dad.

“He was a really nice man,” she said.