The approach we took to meetings with affected whānau, survivors and witnesses, in particular that they led the meetings and discussed what they wanted to with us, meant that we were provided with many peoples’ thoughts and views on matters that are outside our Terms of Reference.
As noted earlier in this document, our Terms of Reference require us to provide reassurance to the New Zealand public. We therefore think it is important to record the breadth of issues that were significant to the affected whānau, survivors and witnesses with whom we met with.
New Zealand Police response to the terrorist attack
We heard from many people about the response to the terrorist attack, including observations on how well responders were equipped to deal with the terrorist attack. This was the single issue most frequently raised in all our meetings with affected whānau, survivors and witnesses.
People we met with expressed anger, grief, frustration and concern about how long it took for New Zealand Police to arrive inside Masjid an-Nur and to allow emergency medical services through the New Zealand Police cordon at the scene. Nearly everyone we met with believed that more lives would have been saved if the injured had received medical treatment sooner.
There is a sense that, despite the active effort of community members to convey clear and precise instructions to avoid confusion, police demonstrated a striking inability to respond adequately and appropriately.
Many people that we heard from about this were also frustrated that New Zealand Police did not act quickly to protect other masajid and gathering places of the Muslim community. They believe that lives could have been saved at the Linwood Islamic Centre if the New Zealand Police had deployed quickly to that location. We were told that some affected whānau, survivors and witnesses were comparing their experiences to similar situations or experiences of gun violence in countries they had come to New Zealand from, where agencies are described as
…vastly more responsive and attentive to the urgency of the situation.
We were told at our 8 November 2020 hui with affected whānau, survivors and witnesses that they still have outstanding questions about the response of New Zealand Police and hospitals to the terrorist attack.
Many affected whānau, survivors and witnesses advised that the former Police Commissioner, Mike Bush, had announced an independent review of New Zealand Police response to the terrorist attack. Many affected whānau, survivors and witnesses felt frustrated that the results of the review had not been made public and it should have been by now. Some affected whānau, survivors and witnesses felt that their trust and confidence in New Zealand Police had further diminished as a result. Some affected whānau, survivors and witnesses were suspicious that the review had identified a number of faults that New Zealand Police did not want to be transparent about.
The individual’s interaction with criminal justice system
Some people we heard from were concerned that the prison conditions in New Zealand were not harsh enough for the individual. A few people suggested that the death penalty would be appropriate punishment for anyone convicted of the terrorist attack.
A few people shared concerns and frustration that the individual was able to send correspondence to like-minded people while in prison. They questioned how this could have been allowed to occur and sought accountability from the Department of Corrections. We heard of the need to stop extremists who are in prison from spreading their harmful views.