While visiting terror-struck Christchurch will now be the focus for the remainder of the Duke's trip and events are expected to take a significantly more sombre tone than most royal visits, those attending the Anzac service were pleased to have his support.
"If I could use the words he used to our staff, "a good friend doesn't pick up the phone when a person is in need - they travel to their place and put their arms around them", he said.
Anzac Day is a national holiday - similar to Memorial Day in the US - marking the anniversary of New Zealand and Australian soldiers, known as Anzacs, landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.
Another said: "You never give up and you never ever will give up trying to save NZ".
Mr Bush said William was concerned with checking how those involved in the response were coping more than a month on from the tragedy.
The duke also met some of the officers and medics who were among the first at the scene of the shootings.
Earlier in the day, William met with first responders to the March shootings.
"As a nation, we are still grieving the loss and the fact that this happened", he said.
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"He thought he could redefine what this place was, I'm here to help you show the world that he failed."
The devastation of the Christchurch shootings is still keenly felt across the country and was reflected on during the service at the city's war memorial.
Britain's Prince William, right, talks with Gabrielle Huria, third left, representative of the Ngai Tuahuriri Runanga Maori tribe, as he arrives in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, April 25, 2019.
The pair shared an intimate hongi [Māori nose press] and espoused the values of freedom, democracy, and peace where they attended a service in Auckland before travelling to Christchurch to meet with survivors.
"Here, today, we love, and we grieve".
During Thursday's services for Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates all those who lost their lives in service to their country, William laid a wreath at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Farid Ahmed, whose wife Husna Ahmed died at the Al Noor Masjid, spoke before Prince William saying "we have to keep up hope and not surrender to hatred".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement that she will co-chair a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on May 15 that will seek to have world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge, called the Christchurch Call, to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.