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Christchurch terror attack inquiry: Jacinda Ardern vows accountability

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there will be accountability after the Royal Commission into the Christchurch terror attack publicly releases its findings.

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Ardern told Morning Report the report was "thorough and meticulous", with contributions from the community.

"I think we owe it to all those involved in the royal commission that we do follow through on its findings. So for me, that expression of accountability is about making sure the community know who is responsible for implementation, they have a very clear picture of when there will be implementation around those separate recommendations and they've asked for that, they want to know who's going to be co-ordinating that work and so on."

In terms of responsibility, that would be detailed further once the report was released, she said.

"Even from my perspective, I found it very difficult to read. It really does go through and give an account of a lot of detail. We cannot put the community through that without making sure that we are responding to what it finds."

The early release of the 800-page report to some of the bereaved and bullet injured on Saturday has raised worries about division and fairness, because those based overseas or who had been witnesses, but not injured, did not get a copy.

Ardern said releasing a Royal Commission report in advance this way was unusual, but they wanted to give the families most affected time to digest the report.

That decision had to be balanced against how widespread it would be, she said.

"When you take into account the larger number of those who have been affected by being witnesses - and we absolutely acknowledge they were deeply affected by March 15 - that starts numbering into roughly 200 ... but we did have to make a call as to how widely it was distributed.

"The whole point ... was so they could have time before there was public commentary. If we are in the order of 200 [copies] being distributed we do run the risk of not having that space for people to take it privately."

On Saturday, witnesses who were present at the meeting were read out the report's findings, she said. "So they do have that advance warning of what its conclusion is."

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However, Wedaad Mohamedhosen, whose uncle was killed in the attack, said her family had been denied a copy of the report because they were based overseas.

In a statement, she said they had no relatives living in the country to be physically present to collect it, and her uncle's legal next of kin - her aunt - lived in London.

"I do believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly whether we are in NZ or abroad specially during a pandemic where travel is heavily restricted."

The family had also suggested to have it delivered electronically through a secure way, but were declined.

Mohamedhosen said they had been told by the prime minister's department that the reason was to find balance between protecting the contents of the report and respecting wishes of the families who were most affected.

She said she and her aunt were legally classified as victims, but would now receive the report at the same time as the public.

Ardern said there was no way to do it securely for overseas-based families.

"If you get into electronic distribution it does get tricky. Keeping in mind again, as I say giving out a report in this way days before its public release, is unusual but I stand by that, I think it was the right thing to do, even though there wasn't a perfect way to do it."

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