Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will lead thousands of mourners expected to gather at a park in front of the Al Noor mosque, where most of the victims died, for a prayer followed by two minutes of silence.
Ardern, who has labeled the attack as terrorism, announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws on Thursday.
The prime minister is expected to be accompanied in the Christchurch prayers with community leaders and other foreign dignitaries.
The Muslim call to prayer will be broadcast across New Zealand on Friday as the nation pauses to mark a week since a heavily armed white supremacist stormed two mosques in a murder spree streamed online.
Thousands of people are expected to gather in a park opposite the Christchurch mosque where the killing spree began, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The sombre gathering comes a day after the country imposed a ban on assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics, making good on a pledge to rid the country of the kind of weapons used in last week’s slaughter of 50 people.
The move triggered renewed calls from leading American politicians for a similar response in the United States which has suffered a stream of firearm massacres but left gun reform untouched.
The centre of focus on Friday will be Hagley Park, which sits opposite Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque, the first of two houses of worship attacked in a live broadcast assault that sparked global revulsion.
Police and tradesmen had been working intensively in the hope of repairing the mosque’s bullet-scarred and blood-spattered interior ahead of afternoon prayers.
But authorities late Thursday announced prayers would be held in the park, where thousands of people from across New Zealand are expected to turn out.
Ardern will join survivors, victims’ families, locals and volunteers who have flocked to the devastated southern city for Zuhr — the early afternoon prayer session that the gunman chose to attack a week ago.
– Prayers and pause –
The national mourning will commence at 1.30pm (0030 GMT) with a call to prayer broadcast on television networks, radio and across multiple local media websites.
The nation will then pause for a two-minute silence at 1.32pm and then prayers will commence.
Friday marks one week since the attack at two mosques in Christchurch
“We are so happy that this prayer will be broadcast to the entire world so that everyone can be part of it,” Mustafa Farouk, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), said in a statement announcing the prayer session.
The burials of the victims began again on Friday morning, with a hearse pulling in to the crematory on the eastern edge of Christchurch where many have already been buried.
The alleged attacker, 28-year-old Australian national Brenton Tarrant, posted a rambling “manifesto” saying he was motivated partly by a desire to stoke religious conflict between Islam and the West.
But in the week since the attacks, horrified Kiwis have displayed outpourings of support, gathering in large vigils, performing traditional haka dances of solidarity and standing in lines behind local Muslims to protect them while they pray.
Assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons have been banned in New Zealand, with immediate effect, less than a week after a white supremacist gunned down 50 Muslim worshippers
One social media campaign has encouraged non-Muslim women to wear headscarves for a day under the hashtag #headscarfforharmony.
Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.
“If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I’ve got lectures and I can’t really skip them,” she told AFP, using a Maori term for an extended family.
“Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch but it’s also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay,” she added.
“As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand.”