Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant stood in the dock wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read a single murder charge against him.
Harrison Tarrant smirked when media persons photographed him during the hearing and was seen making the white power gesture. A right-wing extremist who filmed himself on a rampage that left 49 mosque-goers dead, Tarrant, flashed a white power sign as he appeared in Saturday.
A raft of further charges were expected. The former fitness instructor and self-professed fascist occasionally turned to look at media present in court during the brief hearing that the public were excluded from for security reasons.
Flanked by armed police he flashed an upside-down “okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe.
He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which is scheduled for April 5.
A short distance away, 39 people were being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds and other injuries inflicted in the massacre.
They included a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, who is in critical condition. Doctors at Christchurch hospital said they worked through the night in 12 operating theatres to do what they could to save the survivors.
For many, the road to recovery will require multiple surgical procedures and many survivors said the mental scars may never fully heal.
The attack on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques has been labelled terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and is thought to be the deadliest attack directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.
Outside the court, the son of 71-year-old Afghan victim Daoud Nabi demanded justice for his late father, who believed New Zealand to be a “slice of paradise.”
“It’s outrageous, the feeling is outrageous,” he said. “It’s beyond imagination.” Ardern said the victims came from across the Muslim world, with Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia among the countries rendering consular assistance.
One Saudi citizen and two Jordanians were among the dead, while five Pakistani citizens were missing.