This report provides an independent account of what happened in the lead up to the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack, what, if anything, could have been done to stop it and what must now be done to better protect New Zealanders.
Out of the terrible events of the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack has come the responsibility to reflect and learn.
The first duty of government remains the security of its people. However, national security is not the remit of the intelligence and security and law enforcement agencies alone. Many Public sector agencies also have a role to play. But importantly so too do communities, civil society, local government and the private sector. New Zealanders can play a vital role in countering terrorism and extremism. To play that role, New Zealanders must be informed about the issues and what they can do to help.
With this in mind, we have included in our report a vast amount of material previously classified as Top Secret or Secret. We have done so to bring into the light how New Zealand’s counter-terrorism effort actually works. This will enable future debate to be well informed. We see such informed debate as fundamental to the social licence and thus the effectiveness of the counter-terrorism effort.
We recognise that we have finalised our analysis and report in the shadow of COVID19. The pandemic has impacted all communities and has been a stark reminder of the need for community resilience and social infrastructure. It has also been a bright illustration of what can be achieved when society acts collectively in the broader public interest.
Fundamental to New Zealand’s future wellbeing and security is social cohesion. While social cohesion in New Zealand is much higher than many other countries, there are fault lines. Maintaining and enhancing social cohesion is a vital task for government. We are confident that the will is there. We have provided mechanisms in our recommendations for that will to be realised.
These changes will not be easy, but we have laid down the wero and we urge the Government to take up the challenge and act.