The charge was the first under New Zealand's terrorism suppression legislation, introduced in 2002, after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
"The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 and follows consultation between Police, Crown Law and the Christchurch Crown Solicitors Office", he said.
This brings the total number of charges against the suspect to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge of terrorism.
An additional murder charge and two additional attempted murder charges were also filed.
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Police - who met with victims' families and other survivors to inform them of the charge before it was announced - said they consulted with legal experts and prosecutors before deciding to lay the additional charge.
His next court hearing has been scheduled for June 14, and the mental health findings could determine whether he is required to enter a plea at that point.
Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, is now in a high-security prison undergoing tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial for the worst massacre in modern New Zealand history.
From the outset, Ardern has described the attacks as terrorism.