More people were killed in an attack on a second mosque a short time later.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, from Australia, appeared in court on Saturday charged with one count of murder and was remanded until April 5.
Tarrant was handcuffed and wearing a white prison jumpsuit when he walked into the courtroom.
Images captured by media outlets during that court appearance are being published blurred or pixellated due to an order from the judge who presided over Tarrant's hearing, The New Zealand Herald reports.
Director-General of the Pacific Community (SPC) Colin Tukuitonga also showed his support for New Zealand and those who lost loved ones. I also want to say that the number of injured is also 50.
"This is one of New Zealand's darkest days", New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had said. The shock was exacerbated by the fact Tarrant livestreamed his actions from a camera mounted to his helmet, sparking anger at social media platforms and the length of time it took them to remove the videos. 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and seven died at Linwood mosque. "If they are not of our people, but live in our lands, they must be removed".
The Fijian rugby team also expressed their solidarity with the people of New Zealand after the attacks.
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He said they were praying "to our God of all peoples and of all cultures for peace, tolerance and good will".
Police said three people were in custody. Armed police were deployed at several locations in all cities, unusual in a country that has had low levels of gun violence. She said the shooter had five guns, two of them semi-automatic. This, according to her, allowed the Australian terrorist to legally obtain the weapons in December 2017, and that he was not on any watch-lists prior to the attacks.
"While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of a gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: our gun laws will change", said Ardern.
None of those arrested by the police had been on any watchlists of the authorities either in New Zealand or in Australia, Ardern argued.
Police stand guard at Christchurch Hospital.
Thirty-four people were in Christchurch Hospital, with 12 in intensive care, while one child was moved to a dedicated children's hospital in Auckland. Funerals were planned on Saturday for some of the victims, several of whom were born overseas.
A host of world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, expressed sorrow and disgust at the attacks.
Tarrant's occupation was not given on the charging document, and his address was provided as a place in Dunedin, more than 300 km south of Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island. The suspect appeared to be a white supremacist motivated by USA -based extremism, having posted a manifesto online declaring his hatred for Muslims and idolizing US extremist movements.