A memorial marking the one year anniversary of the March 15 Christchurch terror attacks has been cancelled amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes after the venue was on Monday changed from North Hagley Park to Horncastle Arena and as a sixth coronavirus case is confirmed in New Zealand.
Fifty-one people were killed and 49 others were injured following an attack at two Christchurch mosques on March 15 last year.
Those who died were set to be honoured in a Portrait of Remembrance on screen while their names were read out.
The event was expected to draw in a large crowd, with many travelling around New Zealand and overseas.
“This is a pragmatic decision. We’re very saddened to cancel, but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn’t create the risk of further harm being done," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
“The advice we received for this event, is that based on people travelling from different parts of the country and from overseas, if there was a case it could be difficult to trace those who had come into contact with that person, so we are taking a cautious approach.
“March 15 now becomes an opportunity for every New Zealander to reflect in their own way on the events of a year ago. I encourage everyone to take time on Sunday to remember and to recommit to the values of inclusion and love demonstrated so clearly a year ago.”
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the decision was made to cancel the event over the rapidly changing environment around the spread of Covid-19.
“Tomorrow, we can still reflect on the incredible ways the community came together in response to the events of that tragic day, and think of ways that we can build on the compassion and unity that was so poignantly shown in our city, across the country and throughout the world," she said.
A decision to cancel Auckland's Pasifika festival was also made yesterday, joining a large line of events being cancelled or postponed around the world.
Italy remains under quarantine as countries attempt to stem the tide of the Covid-19 outbreak.