The Royal Commission is investigating whether State agencies are doing all they can to protect the people of New Zealand from terrorist attacks and whether more could be done.

The Royal Commission will make findings on:

  • what State sector agencies knew about the accused attacker, before 15 March 2019
  • what State sector agencies did (if anything) with that knowledge
  • whether there was anything else State sector agencies could have done to prevent the attack
  • what else State sector agencies should do to prevent such attacks in the future.

The Royal Commission is led by Sir William Young (Chair) and Jacqui Caine (Member).  The Royal Commission has a secretariat in Wellington and Christchurch headed by Executive Director Benesia Smith and supported by lawyer, Andrew Butler (Counsel Assisting). The secretariat provides administration, policy and research, community engagement, report development and communications support.  

The purpose, scope and limitations of the Royal Commission have been set out in the Terms of Reference.

You can learn more about the Royal Commission in the Q&A section and through regular updates about its progress.

Minutes set out the Royal Commission’s decisions about its processes including how information received by the Royal Commission is treated.

Process

The Royal Commission’s inquisitorial approach means questions are put to people and organisations, which then raise further questions to be asked of others and so on.

It is very important the Royal Commission follows every line of inquiry and carefully considers all the evidence available to deliver its final report.

The Royal Commission is asking for information from a wide range of sources including New Zealand’s Muslim communities, State sector agencies, academics, former and current State servants and members of the public. 

Much of the Royal Commission's work will be conducted in private.  This is to ensure information is gathered quickly and without restriction.  Some people may feel more comfortable speaking to the Royal Commission if they know their privacy is protected. There will also be some information provided to the Royal Commission that must be kept confidential to allow for natural justice and to maintain national security.

The Royal Commission is working on the assumption that after the report has been made public by the Government, that evidence and information gathered will become public unless it is subject to issues of privacy, confidentiality, natural justice or national security.

Timeline

Here we list the main phases of work, some of which overlap. This is a guide and subject to change. 

Inquiry commences: 10 April 2019
Initial engagement: April-May
Communities Engagement: May - October
Information and evidence gathering: May - September
Analysis and deliberations: August - September
Report development: October-December
Report presentation: 10 December 2019

Questions and Answers

What is a Royal Commission of Inquiry?
A Royal Commission is the most serious option available to the Government to independently investigate critically important issues. It investigates the facts, recommends changes to prevent future recurrences and reports to the Governor General.

What is the purpose of this Royal Commission?
This Royal Commission is examining:

  • what State sector agencies knew about the accused attacker, before 15 March 2019
  • what State sector agencies did (if anything) with that knowledge
  • whether there was anything else State sector agencies could have done to prevent the attack
  • what else State sector agencies should do to prevent such attacks in the future.

The Royal Commission needs to investigate the accused attacker’s activities before 15 March 2019, including

  • his time in Australia
  • his arrival and residence in New Zealand
  • his travel within New Zealand, and internationally
  • how he obtained a gun licence, weapons, and ammunition
  • his use of social media and other online media
  • his connections with others, whether in New Zealand or internationally.

The Royal Commission’s inquiries are completely separate to the criminal court proceedings.

You can read more about the Royal Commission’s purpose in the Terms of Reference.

What can’t the Royal Commission do?
The Royal Commission cannot inquire into:

  • the guilt or innocence of any individual who has been, or may be, charged with offences in relation to the attack
  • amendments to firearms legislation
  • activity by entities/organisations outside the State sector (such as media platforms)
  • the response to the attack once it had begun.

How can I contribute to the Royal Commission’s inquiries?
If you have information that could help with its inquiry, the Royal Commission wants to hear from you.

  • What worries you most about the safety of your community?
  • What should State agencies be doing to keep us all safe?
  • What could be done differently to help prevent something like this happening again?

You can find more about making a submission to the Royal Commission here.

Public submissions close at 5pm on Friday 27 September 2019.

Can I make an anonymous submission?
Yes. Visit our Submissions page for further information.

What if I need help to make a submission or need information translated?
Please call the Royal Commission on 0800 222 987.

I’m a former or current State servant, am I covered by the Protected Disclosure Act?
The Royal Commission has had assurance from each relevant State sector agency that current and former employees or contractors should feel free to make submissions. In addition each State sector agency has assured the Royal Commission that it will not:

  • initiate any disciplinary action against former or current employees or contractors for giving evidence in good faith; or
  • discriminate against any current or former employees or contractors who give evidence in good faith.

To find more call the Royal Commission on 0800 222 987 and find more information on the website here. 

What is the purpose of the Muslim Community Reference Group?
This group will help to ensure the Royal Commission process builds in appropriate and accessible opportunities for Muslim communities to take part in the inquiry.

What criteria has been used to decide the membership of the Muslim Community Reference Group?
The following criteria was applied to ensure a fair and balance representation.

  • Gender with a desire to achieve a 50/50 ratio, if possible
  • Ethnicity with a desire to ensure a diverse range of ethnicities are represented
  • Age with a desire to ensure that the Reference Group includes a range of ages (including youth, adults and elders)
  • Religious diversity with a desire to ensure different religious perspectives are represented. 
  • Geographical location with a desire to ensure a geographical spread of Reference Group members, while acknowledging the attacks took place in Christchurch.

Can the Royal Commission find a State agency or individual liable for the attack?
A Royal Commission cannot determine legal rights or liabilities.

When does the Royal Commission report its findings?
The Royal Commission must report its findings by 10 December 2019.

Will the Royal Commission publish its findings and recommendations?
No. The Royal Commission provides the report to the Governor General who then passes it on to the Government to consider. The Government will make decisions on what information is published.

Does the Government have to act on the Report?
Findings and recommendations made by the Royal Commission are not binding for the Government.

Who is leading and working on the Royal Commission?
The Royal Commission is led by Sir William Young (Chair) and Jacqui Caine (Member), who are supported by Executive Director Benesia Smith and lawyer, Andrew Butler (Counsel Assisting). The wider secretariat provides administration, policy and research, community engagement, report development and communications support.

Where is the Royal Commission team located?
The team is based in Wellington and Christchurch and travels to other places to talk to people and organisations.

Who set the Terms of Reference?
The Royal Commission was initiated by the Government. The Government established the Terms of Reference, defining what must be investigated.

Who decides how the Royal Commission should operate?
The Inquiries Act 2013 sets out that a Royal Commission can determine its own procedures. The Chair (appointed by the Governor General) and other appointed members decide the approach. The Royal Commission is independent of Government. A Royal Commission can inquire into any matters it sees fit, to investigate issues consistent with the Inquiries Act and Terms of Reference. Witnesses can be compelled to appear or provide evidence.

Can people register for updates about the Inquiry?
Yes, it’s easy to register for updates on the website. All that’s required is an email address, no other information is needed and email addresses are not stored for any other purposes.

 

 

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