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Christchurch Families Prepare For Burials

Many across Christchurch are set to return to schools and jobs as the city's Muslim community prepares to bury those killed in a terror attack on mosques.

Police say heavily armed officers and helicopters that have patrolled the city for days will remain deployed as residents return for their first work day after a massacre at two mosques left 50 dead and another 50 hurt.

"The public wants to go back to school, work, their recreational activities," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

"It's the role of New Zealand police to enable people to do that."

Meanwhile, with authorities planning to begin releasing bodies back to their families who were on Sunday night being called in to see the dead, burials are expected to begin shortly.

Bush told media that police were highly aware of concerns among some in the Muslim community that the time taken to examine the bodies has prevented the swift burials called for under Islamic tradition.

"So we are doing that as quickly and as sensitively as possible," he said.

Javed Dadabhai, whose cousin was killed in the attack and travelled from Auckland to help organise the funerals, said the need for a thorough investigation was clear.

"Those family members who require the grieving, their grieving process isn't beginning," he said.

"But we need to give [authorities] all the time they need for investigations ... We wouldn't want to think that because of some pressure or haste from our community that we're going to put the police in a situation they'll regret later."

In New Zealand's capital, politicians will be turning their attention to both condolence and analysis.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declared she will push ahead with tightening the laws around gun control in the country where there are an estimated 1.5 million firearms, about one gun for every three people, and discuss the matter with her cabinet.

She'll also be asking questions about why Australian-born white supremacist Brenton Tarrant - currently charged as the sole perpetrator behind the twin attacks - was not on security watchlists in either her country or Australia.

Authorities have confirmed the 28-year-old, who is from Grafton in NSW and had been living in Dunedin, is so far the only person charged over the attack, others arrested now thought to be not involved.

"He will certainly face the justice system of New Zealand for the terrorist attack that he has committed here," Ardern told reporters.

His family on Sunday apologised.

"It's just so much of everything to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this," Tarrant's 81-year-old grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, said, adding that he was "obviously not of sound mind".

New stories of heroism have emerged after the attack.

Abdul Aziz, 48, has been applauded after he scared the shooter away from the Linwood mosque to protect dozens inside, including his four sons.

An outpouring of grief across the nation continued on Sunday as an estimated 11,000 people turned out for a vigil in Wellington, while Ardern attended a wreath-laying at a mosque in the capital.

Flowers continued to pile up around mosques, which remain heavily guarded.

In Christchurch, hundreds in the afternoon continued to flow past memorials, leaving flowers, praying and crying.

At a centre near Hagley Park, just minutes from where gunfire first broke out, members of the Muslim community gathered again on Sunday, describing their lost friends and family, while others sought information about those still missing.


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