We start by acknowledging whānau of the 51 shuhada, and the survivors and witnesses of the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack and their whānau whose lives have been forever changed. Those attacked at the masjidain were New Zealanders who had gathered together in peaceful prayer. The terrorist murdered 51 people and attempted to murder a further 40 people. His brutal actions were deplorable and incomprehensible.
The terrorist attack was driven by an extreme right-wing Islamophobic ideology. Its purpose was to promote chaos and disharmony in New Zealand. This purpose failed. In the days, weeks and months that followed, New Zealanders united around those affected and spoke out against racism, extremism and extremist violence. There was a period of national reflection about our shared values, our collective lives and what it means to live in New Zealand.
The country needed to know what had happened, and why, and what should be done to reduce the risk of future attacks. This Royal Commission of Inquiry was established. It has been our privilege and honour to serve as Members.
At the heart of our inquiry were those who lost their lives, whānau of the 51 shuhada, and the survivors and witnesses of the terrorist attack and their whānau. We wanted to listen and engage in a culturally appropriate way.
We were humbled by those who generously welcomed us into their homes. People shared their grief and trauma as well as their love for New Zealand and their wish for better connections between all New Zealand communities. People whose lives had been turned upside down were nonetheless able to look to the future and be hopeful for New Zealand.
We scrutinised the life of the individual who planned and carried out the terrorist attack. We asked hard questions of Public sector agencies, particularly those tasked with protecting New Zealanders from such attacks.
We met with a wide range of New Zealand and international experts about topics ranging from gathering intelligence to social cohesion. Many hundreds of people met with us, wrote to us, provided evidence and were interviewed. More than 1,100 people made submissions.
We are grateful to everyone who engaged with us so openly and honestly. We felt a genuine and heartfelt intention to assist this inquiry for the future benefit of all New Zealanders. This is especially true of the members of the Muslim Community Reference Group whose insights contributed greatly to our report. Likewise, we are grateful to JustCommunity and Navigate Your Way Trust, organisations that assisted us to engage with whānau of the 51 shuhada, and the survivors and witnesses of the terrorist attack and their whānau.
We thank the international experts and leaders of intelligence and security agencies in Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America who gave their time and valuable expertise so willingly. We reserve special thanks to Lord Hogan-Howe QPM and John McKinnon CNZM QSO who provided independent expertise and insights that were critical to our inquiry and this report.
Finally, we express our gratitude to the secretariat of, and counsels assisting, the Royal Commission who brought their diverse views, skills and experience to bear on our work, ensuring a robust approach.
We have made recommendations in this report that are both wide-ranging and detailed. They are the building blocks for a safer and more cohesive New Zealand.
Hon Sir William Young KNZM