17.6 New Zealand Police

Do New Zealand Police keep a formal or informal list of Muslim individuals? Do they have any units that are predominantly focussed on Muslim individuals or communities?

Religious faith is rarely recorded in police data holdings and New Zealand Police systems do not allow the automatic or easy collation of a list of people based on their religion. New Zealand Police therefore do not keep a list of Muslim individuals.

New Zealand Police do not have any units whose purpose is to focus on Muslim individuals and communities. One of the responsibilities of ethnic liaison officers is to develop relationships with communities, including Muslim communities, but they do not work exclusively with any one ethnic or religious community. The National Security Investigation Team have primarily focused on Islamist extremism (see Part 8, chapter 6).


What records do New Zealand Police have of complaints of anti-Muslim or threatening behaviour against Muslim individuals and Muslim institutions, in Christchurch and nationally?

The limitations of New Zealand Police’s recording practices means that exact numbers are not available. There was no centralised information system for recording leads, the actions taken, outcomes of investigations, and characteristics of complainants, victims or offenders (such as religion).

New Zealand Police provided us with a list of recorded interactions with Muslim individuals from 2010 to 14 March 2019. This list included approximately 45 reports of threatening behaviour against Muslim individuals and institutions, of which six were in the Canterbury region. The list was created after 15 March 2019 by asking Districts and specialist units to search their various databases, and collating the information provided (see Part 8, chapter 6).

We discuss recording of hate-motivated offending in Part 9, chapter 4.


Do New Zealand Police collect information on threats or attacks against places of worship or religious institutions in New Zealand? If so, how many such incidents have occurred since 1990?

The limitations of New Zealand Police’s recording practices mean that this information is not available. There was no centralised information system for recording national security leads, the actions taken, outcomes of investigation, characteristics of complainants, victims or offenders (such as religion) or locations such as places of worship or religious institutions.


What, if any, partnerships have been built with international partner agencies to build capability for policing the perceived threat of white nationalism and right-wing extremism, and the perceived threat of Islamist extremism?

New Zealand Police have partnerships with international law enforcement agencies and groups, including the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group. One of the purposes of these partnerships is to build capability across a range of ideological threats.

New Zealand Police are a member of the Australia New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee. The Committee provides specialist training, which New Zealand Police staff have attended. Right-wing extremism has been a training focus on occasion.

New Zealand Police have adopted prioritisation and risk assessment tools developed by the Committee, such as the Operational Threat Assessment Guideline and the Counter-Terrorism Persons of Interest Prioritisation Tool Guideline. These contain generic indicators of threat and capability relevant to both Islamist extremist and right-wing extremist threats (see Part 8, chapter 6).

The leads triage process New Zealand Police adopted in the immediate aftermath of the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack was developed in consultation with specialist staff from international partner agencies.

New Zealand Police are currently increasing the number of staff based in other countries.


Do New Zealand Police respond differently to reports of suspicious or threatening behaviour related to violent extremism or terrorism when the complaint is made against a Muslim individual compared to when the complaint is made against a non-Muslim individual?

The limitations of New Zealand Police’s recording practices mean that it is not possible to undertake a comparative analysis of how similar threats against Muslim individuals and non-Muslim individuals were actioned by New Zealand Police.

Many Muslim communities told us they felt that New Zealand Police did not always take reports about suspicious or threatening behaviour seriously (see Part 3: What communities told us). When we put this to New Zealand Police, they told us they are “threat agnostic” – meaning that when they receive a lead they use the same assessment criteria regardless of the ideological source of the threat.  

New Zealand Police lacked a sophisticated understanding of the new iterations of the extreme right-wing that emerged from about 2016. Many frontline staff lacked an understanding of the risks and threats of terrorism, including how to recognise such risks and threats and what to do about them. While the National Security Investigations Team comprised capable investigators, they had limited knowledge of, and experience in investigating, right-wing extremists (see Part 8, chapter 6).


What are the policies and practices of New Zealand Police in relation to passing on complaints or information about suspected extremists to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service?

New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service jointly manage counter-terrorism leads in accordance with an agreed joint leads process (see Part 8, chapter 12). The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service hosts a fortnightly Joint Leads Meeting attended by the Department of Corrections, Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand Customs Service, New Zealand Police and (since September 2019) the Government Communications Security Bureau.  This forum is where agencies share leads and intelligence. In addition, the counter-terrorism agencies regularly share information on leads in real time, on an informal basis and as investigations progress.


What policies and procedures do New Zealand Police follow regarding the financing of international terrorism by individuals residing in New Zealand?

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 requires the financial sector to report suspicious financial activities to New Zealand Police’s Financial Intelligence Unit through the Prescribed Transaction Reporting regime.

Reporting entities such as financial institutions and casinos have to submit all international fund transfers over $1,000 and all cash transactions over $10,000 to the Financial Intelligence Unit. This information is used for modelling and detecting suspicious criminal activity, which is referred to New Zealand Police investigation teams. The Financial Intelligence Unit produces a quarterly report which, among other things:

  • examines money laundering and terrorist financing methods used in New Zealand and overseas; and
  • provides indicators of money laundering and terrorist financing techniques.