'Sad' PM ready to mark week

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs a pupil during her visit to Cashmere High School, in Christchurch, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs a pupil during her visit to Cashmere High School, in Christchurch, yesterday. Photo: Reuters
A two-minute silence will be held tomorrow to commemorate the one-week anniversary of last week's massacre.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement during a visit to Christchurch yesterday.

In a separate event, state broadcasters Radio NZ and TVNZ will also play the Islamic call to prayer.

The timing of both events has yet to be announced.

The first burial of those who died - two refugees from Syria - took place yesterday. Ms Ardern said they should have been safe in New Zealand.

''I cannot tell you gutting it is to know a family came here for safety and refuge and they should have been safe here.''

She also responded to reports Islamic State had called for reprisals to Friday's attacks, saying the New Zealand Muslim community had only expressed ''a rejection of extremism, violence and hate''.

Before yesterday's press conference, the Prime Minister met police officers who were first on the scene at the Al Noor mosque.

She also met St John's first responders and thanked them for their service on New Zealand's ''darkest day''.

''I have no doubt you saved lives,'' she told them.

In the morning, Ms Ardern visited Cashmere High School, where she was welcomed by a passionate haka.

Cashmere High lost year 10 pupil Sayyad Milne and year 12 pupil Hamza Mustafa on Friday.

Hamza's father, Khaled, was also killed. Hamza and Khaled were the first of the dead from Friday's shooting to be buried yesterday.

At the school assembly, Ms Ardern shared an embrace with Bri, a 13-year-old year 9 pupil, who opened the question-and-answer session by asking her: ''How are you?''

''I am very sad,'' Ms Ardern replied.

Asked about the gunman during the session, the Prime Minister told pupils to focus on the victims.

''You know some of the young people who lost their lives on Friday. It's their names and stories that we need to keep telling. It's them we need to honour.''

She said it was everyone's responsibility to fight racism.

Ms Ardern said social media could be used as a force for good, and referred to the fact thousands of pupils knew about the vigil through social media.

''Never underestimate the power of just sending a message, looking out for someone, performing a haka. There is power in that.''

But she also cautioned the pupils about the perils of social media, and dozens of hands shot up when she asked if anyone had had negative experiences online.

''Racism breeds extremism.

Let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance of racism, ever.''

-By Derek Cheng

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