Christchurch massacre: Inquiry finds failures ahead of attack

Armed guards outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand

An inquiry into the Christchurch massacre has found a series of failures ahead of the 2019 attack, but concluded the tragedy was unpreventable.

The inquiry was launched after white supremacist Brenton Tarrant killed 51 people at two mosques in March 2019.

It found he had been able to accumulate a massive trove of weapons, with authorities failing to enforce proper checks on firearms licences.

It further found officials were overly focussed on Islamist terrorism.

However, correcting these failures would not have stopped the Australian national, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole earlier this year, from carrying out the attack, it said.

What's more, the patchwork of clues discovered by police after the massacre - including his steroid abuse, a hospital admission after he'd accidentally shot himself, and visits to far-right websites - would not have proved enough to predict the attack.

What did the commission find?

"The commission found no failures within any government agencies that would have allowed the terrorist planning and preparation to be detected," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after the release of the report.

"But they did identify many lessons to be learnt and significant areas that require change."

media captionArdern: 'Muslim New Zealanders should be safe'

She highlighted "failings within the firearms licensing regime" and "inappropriate concentration of resources" on a perceived level of Islamist threats.

"While the commission made no findings that these issues would have stopped the attack, these were failings nonetheless and, for that, on behalf of the government I apologise."

The report includes a list of recommendations which the government said it would all accept, including establishing a new national intelligence and security agency and a proposal for the police to better identify and respond to hate crimes.

The government also plans to create an ethnic community ministry and a graduate programme for ethnic communities.

How did New Zealand's Muslim community react?

The imam of the Al Noor Mosque, one of the two places of worship targeted, said the report confirmed that authorities had been overly suspicious of the Muslim community instead of protecting it.

"We've known for a long time that the Muslim community has been targeted with hate speech and hate crimes - this report shows that we are right," he said. "The report shows that institutional prejudice and unconscious bias exists in government agencies and that needs to change."

He stressed that the changes recommended in the report should now be used to rebuild the trust between the Muslim community and the police.