Yusuf /Cat Stevens To Play At Christchurch Service
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes the remembrance service for victims of the Christchurch terror attacks will herald the beginning of necessary shifts in New Zealand society.
Delegates from nearly 60 countries will join thousands of New Zealanders for the service at Hagley Park on Friday, marking two weeks since a gunman claimed 50 lives in a mass shooting at two mosques.
The Muslim community will be at centre of the ceremony but many of their leaders and other visiting dignitaries haven't been identified for security reasons.
Musician Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, will perform at the service which will be broadcast live around New Zealand and internationally.
"It's a sign of human concern that we all share together the pain which is obviously been inflicted here in this most remote part of the world," the singer told Newshub.
"It's to show the unity we all have which is great."
Media reports say snipers and elite staff from the Australian Federal Police will patrol the park in what is being described as the country's biggest security operation.
Ardern confirmed Australian prime minister Scott Morrison will attend, along with opposition leader Bill Shorten and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.
Ardern said her country has had time to come to terms with the horrific nature of the massacre and hopes there is a groundswell for change.
"I want to acknowledge that New Zealand is now on the beginning of a journey," she said.
"We have never been free of racism. We have never been free of violent ideology but our over-riding values are ones of fairness, compassion and diversity."