"Remember that name." The emotional testimonies heard at the Christchurch shooter's sentencing.

On Thursday, the Australian man who killed 51 people and injured 40 others during a terrorist attack in Christchurch last year has been sentenced to life without parole. It is the first time the full-life term has been imposed in New Zealand.

For three days, survivors of the March 15, 2019 Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks stood strong, directly addressing the man who murdered 51 members of their community.

Emboldened and confident, victims delivered heartbreaking and spine-tingling stories of grief to the New Zealand High Court as the sentencing of the terrorist took place this week.

On Monday, testimonies were hesitant and nervous. On Tuesday, the mood had changed as more victims gained confidence to speak of their rage and grief. By Wednesday, the floodgates in a usually muted courtroom had opened.

Sara Qasem delivers her victim impact statement. Post continues below video.

Video via Twitter.

Court officials planned for around 66 victims - either survivors from the mosques or family members of those killed or injured - to address the court, as well as the offender, who sat just five metres away, separated by a glass panel.


The final number was over 80, as survivors say they were strengthened by previous speakers to share their stories.

Brenton Tarrant, the 29-year-old Australian who committed the murders, opted not to speak.

After three days of statements, he was sentenced on Thursday to life without parole.

"Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it would not exhaust the requirements of punishment and denunciation," Justice Cameron Mander said when handing down his sentence.

New Zealand media reported the reaction outside the courtroom, where more than 100 people cheered as it was delievered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was relieved by the sentence.

"I want to acknowledge the strength of our Muslim community who shared their words in court over the past few days," she said.

"You relived the horrific events of March 15 to chronicle what happened that day and the pain it has left behind. Nothing will take the pain away but I hope you felt the arms of New Zealand around you through this whole process, and I hope you continue to feel that through all the days that follow.

"The trauma of March 15 is not easily healed but today I hope is the last where we have any cause to hear or utter the name of the terrorist behind it. His deserves to be a lifetime of complete and utter silence."


As Ardern said, it is tough to imagine the level of strength shown by those who looked the killer in the eye; some said they forgave him and others told him how his hate failed to divide them, instead bring the Muslim community closer together.

"These tears are not for you."

Sara Qasem was not originally listed on the court plans but rose to speak on behalf of her father Abdelfattah, murdered at Al Noor mosque.

"My name is Sara Qasem. Daughter of a hero. Daughter of a shining, glimmering man... daughter of a martyr. Of Abdelfattah Qasem. Remember that name," she said firmly.

Sara Qasem said the gunman made "a conscious, stupid, irresponsible, cold-blooded, selfish, disgusting, heinous, foul, uninformed and evil choice." Image: Getty.


"My Dad never left. He could have left but he stayed behind to help his brothers. Putting others before himself."

Qasem drew tears from every corner of the courtroom as she grieved for her lost father.

"I'd never really known what the meaning of a broken heart was until then," she said.

"I want to go on more road trips with him. Smell his home cooking. His cologne."

Crying, she composed herself and eyeballed her father's killer saying "these tears are not for you".

"To hear his deep belly laugh," she continued. "I want to hear him tell me more about the olive trees in Palestine. I want to hear his voice."

"A peasant like you will never change the human race."

Ahad Nabi directly faced the terrorist as he spoke, his speech dripping with venom after losing his father Haji Mohemmed Daoud Nabi.

"I do not forgive you for what you have done. While you are in prison you will come to reality that you are now in hell – and only the fire awaits you," Nabi said. Image: Getty.


"I ask of you, your honour, that this scum of the world never be allowed to be free in his lifetime," he said, addressing Justice Cameron Mander. He said the gunman should be put in "mainstream prison".

The cost of keeping Tarrant in prison, where he is separated from other prisoners and guarded around the clock, is more than 15 times the average cost of incarceration, raising questions of whether NZ should be footing the bill for what is expected to be a life sentence.

Ahad Nabi. Image: Getty.


Nabi's outfit spoke volumes: A shirt from the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team topped with a pakol, a traditional Afghan hat, that looked just the like the one his father wore. It may have been his father's.

Haji Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, 71, was killed at Al Noor Mosque. Image: Facebook.


Nabi reiterated statements from other victims that the gunman had hidden behind his guns.

"You are weak," Nabi said. "A sheep with a wolf’s jacket on, for only 10 minutes of your whole life."

"My 71-year-old dad would have broke you in half if you challenged him to a fight.

"Your actions were of gutless character of a person."

The world had been created "with colour", Nabi added. "A peasant like you will never change the human race."

"I am strong and you made me even stronger," he concluded, flexing his arms to show his biceps before raising his middle fingers at the gunman.


Fathers with 'holes in their hearts'.

Aden Dirye spoke to the court about his son, Mucaad Ibrahim, who had been three years old when the gunman deliberately shot him, twice, making him the attack's youngest victim.

Dirye said he had imagined his son becoming a police officer when he grew up.

"I will never forget how he would play in the mosque and make friends with every worshiper who attended, young and old," he said.


Mucaad Ibrahim was the youngest victim. Image: AAP.

"I don't know you, I never never hurt you, your father, mother, or any of your friends," Dirye added. "Rather, I’m the type of person that would help you and your family with anything."

Nathan Smith told the shooter he could not forget the death and injury he witnessed at the mosque, where he was praying on March 15. He held Mucaad Ibrahim in his arms after the child was shot.


"I held a three-year-old boy in my arms, praying he was still alive. He was not. You took him away. He was three.

"You have changed my life forever, and I will never forgive you. For us, life will go on with sadness in our hearts."

Another father, John Milne, whose 14-year-old son Sayyad Milne was murdered at Al Noor mosque, used the gunman's first name, the only person to do so.

He begged the judge to "send Brenton [Tarrant] back to Australia where he came from".

John Milne holds a photograph of his son, Sayyad Milne. Image: Getty.


He said there was "a huge hole in his heart" because he would no longer see this son, who went off to school on March 15 and never returned home.

He brought two photos of his son to the court: One for the judge considering the sentence, and another which he hoped would be given "to Brenton".

Sayyad's life was taken while he was praying: "Is there any bigger crime than that?" Milne asked.

"I love you Sayyad my angel," he said.

"You know this face. The one who chased you out."

Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah chased and fought the heavily armed terrorist at Linwood Islamic Centre, the second mosque the gunman attacked before being arrested.

"You will never forget these two eyes you ran from." Image: Getty.


On Wednesday, he stood in court and stared him down for a second time.

"You should thank God on that day I didn't catch you," Aziz said.

"The Government would save a lot of money.

"You should thank Allah I didn't catch you on that day. You never forget these two eyes you ran from."

Aziz said he was worshipping at the Linwood mosque when he heard gunfire.

"This coward, gutless person, come from the back, put his gun in the window and shot one of the brothers in the head, next to my son, and he fall down to the ground," he said.

"I couldn’t find anything to defend myself, [but] there was an Eftpos machine."

Image: Getty.


Aziz went out to the carpark and threw the machine at the terrorist's car, and was forced to duck between cars when the gunman shot at him.

"My two sons were looking from the side of the mosque. That coward kept shooting at me. They said 'Daddy please come inside'. I told them you go inside I will be alright.

"I called that coward. 'You are looking for me, I am here!' I didn't want him to go inside the mosque because we had 80 to 100 people praying at that time."

Then he realised the killer had dropped a gun.

"I throw the gun on his side window, and smash his side window. When I smash window, I saw fear on his eyes for his own life, and he look at me, give me a finger and said 'I will f**king kill all of you'," he said.


The killer then fled down the drive and ran two red lights to get away, Aziz said.

"I see the fear on his eyes when he was running for his life, Your Honour," he told the court.

As Aziz spoke, Justice Mander interrupted to make a rare comment.

"I have seen the video and I want to acknowledge your courage," he said.

"Thank you, Your Honour, thank you very much," Aziz replied, as the entire public gallery erupted in applause.

"Who exactly is the other here right now? Is it us, or is it you?"

Outside proceedings, victims, family members, support workers and police mingled and chatted, showing the sense of community that they have built and often referred to in statements.

Encouragingly, after giving their contributions, victims often say they are left with a sense of relief, empowerment and strength.

"When I saw him shooting people, I was not the one in control. He was," Rosemary Omar, who lost her 24-year-old son Tariq Omar, told AAP.

"It was empowering to get some of that power back that the perpetrator took from us when he killed our son."

Rosemary Omar said speaking in court felt like she was taking back some control. Image: Getty.


Rashid Omar, Rosemary's husband and Tariq's father, said he felt a full range of emotions while addressing Tarrant.

"At first I was emotional reading about my sadness and loss but I gained strength. I got more angry after that," he said.

"I looked right at him, that really helped."

Mr Omar told the court he felt "broken inside", lost his enjoyment of life, and eyeballed the shooter, telling him he would never be able to forgive him.


"When I said I will never be able to forgive you, he just nodded," he said.

"I felt like I was in control. He was looking and me and I was staring back at him. I saw him nod, agree with me... like 'fair enough'."

The full hearings will not be seen by the public, with Justice Cameron Mander placing restrictions on what can be broadcast and some speakers choosing not to allow recordings.

It is unlikely the court has seen many contributions quite like Qasem's, who finished her statement by comparing the rebuilding of her community to the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which repairs broken pottery with gold leaf.

"Our hearts may be broken ... but slowly and surely we are reassembling each crack with a lining of gold," she said.

"The gold is the love, the aroha, the New Zealand community, our friends and neighbours, the flower wall, the government.

"In the end, love wins and love will always win," she said, as almost all in the court - including officials and reporters - were in tears.

"I urge you to take a look around this courtroom and ask yourself: Who exactly is the other here right now?" She asked the gunman. 

"Is it us, or is it you? I think that answer's pretty clear."

-With AAP.

Feature image: Getty.