In this Part we have introduced some of the key issues and concepts that will be referred to throughout our report. We have described changes at the national and international level such as increased diversity in New Zealand and the rise of the far right internationally.


Understanding the rise of the far right is important for our inquiry as the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack was carried out to advance an extreme right-wing ideology. We have explained that where a number of people are espousing similar extremist views, it is very difficult to predict who will go on to commit acts of violence as the vast majority of those who hold extreme views do not mobilise to violence. It is therefore important that the counter-terrorism effort is well equipped to identify people who advocate for, plan or otherwise materially support violent extremism and terrorism. We assess this effort in Part 8: Assessing the counter-terrorism effort.


The changing make-up of New Zealand and the experiences of ethnic and religious communities, including Muslim communities, are central to our inquiry. Violence is not the only harm caused by extremism. There are a range of other behaviours that cause harm and undermine social cohesion and potentially create an environment more conducive to violent extremism. We have described a spectrum of harmful behaviours and will return to this throughout the report.


A challenge for society and government is developing appropriate responses to harmful behaviours which are effective in limiting their occurrence and frequency but which do not, at the same time, exacerbate divisions. This requires responses that protect the right of all people to live safely and free from discrimination while not endangering human rights through the imposition of laws that undermine democratic values.