March 15 terror attacks take place in Ōtautahi Event


NameMarch 15 terror attacks take place in Ōtautahi
CityŌtautahi Christchurch


On March 15, 2019, two consecutive mass shootings took place at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Ōtautahi Christchurch during Friday prayer, killing 51 people. The shooter was arrested as he was driving to a third mosque in Ashburton.

For the first time in New Zealand history, the national terrorism threat level was raised to high, with then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describing the “extreme and unprecedented violence” as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”, linking the shooting to the rise in white supremacy and alt-right extremism both in Aotearoa and abroad.

The terror attacks ignited a profound outpouring of grief across the country and sparked wider discussion about racism and Islamophobia in New Zealand, with many artists responding through illustration, posters and poetry. Artist and journalist Mohamed Hassan produced the podcast series The Guest House for RNZ, exploring how Muslim New Zealanders were making sense of the terror attacks, one year on. In 2021, to mark two years since the event, Wellington-based artists Muhammad and Sameera Waqas were commissioned to create 51, a painting featuring the names of those who died on March 15. In March 2023, Raising Sakinah | Finding Peace opened at Tūranga Central Library, featuring artworks created by the survivors of the attacks.

A proposed film based on the events, They Are Us, attracted significant criticism when it was announced in 2021 for its focus on the Prime Minister rather than on the victims. “In its essence, it is a story about an act of white supremacy that is centered around white voices, white feelings and white heroism,” wrote Mohamed Hassan in the NZ Herald. “The irony is nauseating. The lack of self-awareness is profound.” In The Guardian, writer Guled Mire called it “completely insensitive”, noting that “many victims themselves haven’t even heard of this.” Producer Philippa Campbell later resigned from the project, saying “she had not realised the hurt the film would cause.”


Last updated: 21 February 2024 Suggest an Edit