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Counter-terrorism

The Government’s counter-terrorism priority is to ensure the safety and security of New Zealanders both here and overseas.

National Security agencies work together on all aspects of counter-terrorism from prevention and preparation to response and recovery.

We work collaboratively to safeguard New Zealand’s freedoms and way of life to ensure we are neither the target nor the source of terrorist activities.

To report a threat

Call 111 and ask for Police when there is a serious threat to life or property

To report information of security concern, call the NZSIS freephone number 0800 747 224 or log a public submission form here

New Zealand’s threat environment

The threat of terrorism to New Zealand is real. An attack could be mounted by individuals or small groups with extreme ideological, political or religious motives.

New Zealand is vulnerable to terrorism in a similar way other countries are – the openness of the internet, growing international travel movements, and presence within all societies of disconnected individuals susceptible to extremist messaging or ideology.

Our strongest defence against terrorism is a cohesive, resilient society.

To achieve this government agencies build partnerships with communities focusing on open and constructive dialogue on common issues to create strong and inclusive communities.

Responding to a terrorism incident

Multiple government agencies are responsible for maintaining New Zealand’s security:

  • New Zealand Police lead the operational response to a terrorist incident with the support of other government agencies when required
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) collect and analyse intelligence and investigate terrorism threats
  • Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) provide analysis and assessment that informs decision-makers of the physical threat posed by terrorism to New Zealanders and New Zealand interests
  • The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provide leadership, strategic assessment and advice, as well as coordination through the National Security System
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade leads New Zealand’s international action to advance and protect New Zealanders’ safety and New Zealand’s security

These and other government agencies work with non-government organisations, businesses and communities to ensure we have a joined up approach to any terrorism threat.

Lead agency

New Zealand Police are well prepared and exercised to lead the response to a terrorism incident, where the focus is to ensure public safety and protect human life.

New Zealand Police will provide advice and information to the public via these communication channels:

Any response to an incident may involve other government departments, emergency services, local government, and businesses.

The National Security System would activate during an incident to ensure a coordinated government response.

New Zealand’s national terrorism threat level

New Zealand’s current national terrorism threat level is LOW; a terrorist attack is assessed as possible but not expected.

The national terrorism threat level is a scale of six levels that provides an assessment of the likelihood of a terrorism incident. It is designed as a tool to inform and guide government risk assessment and risk management activity.

The national terrorism threat level is under continual evaluation and takes into account specific domestic considerations and relevant international threat factors.

The national terrorism threat level is set by CTAG, an autonomous inter-agency group hosted by New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. The Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) considers the appropriate response and recommendations are made to Ministers, including the Prime Minister.

A change in threat level can be used to determine government planning and risk management, and advise agencies so they can take any further appropriate measures. A change in the threat level does not necessarily require specific response from the public.

New Zealand’s current national terrorism threat level is low. This means that a domestic terrorism event is assessed as possible, but one is not expected. The last time the New Zealand national threat level was changed was in 2014, when it was increased from very low to low.

New Zealand's Threat Levels
Threat level Definition
Negligible Terrorist attack, or violent criminal behaviour, or violent protest activity is assessed as very unlikely.
Very Low Terrorist attack, or violent criminal behaviour, or violent protest activity is assessed as unlikely. 
Low Terrorist attack, or violent criminal behaviour, or violent protest activity is assessed as possible, but is not expected.
Medium Terrorist attack, or violent criminal behaviour, or violent protest activity is assessed as feasible and could well occur.
High Terrorist attack, or violent criminal behaviour, or violent protest activity is assessed as likely.
Extreme Terrorist attack, or violent criminal behaviour, or violent protest activity is expected imminently.

Government agencies draw on CTAG for domestic and offshore threat assessments to guide their risk assessment and mitigation activities. For example, CTAG threat assessments are used to inform travel advisories and major event security planning.

Offshore threat advice

SafeTravel is the official source of travel advice for New Zealanders.

The website provides travel advisories for specific destinations, with up-to-date information on security risks.

Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee

New Zealand has been a member of the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) since 2012. The purpose of the committee is to ensure the closest possible Trans-Tasman coordination and cooperation on counter-terrorism matters.

The ANZCTC comprises of representatives from the New Zealand Government, Australian Government and the Australian state and territorial governments.

Related links

Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009

Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

Designated terrorist entities 

National Security System

NZSIS Counter-Terrorism role

MFAT Counter-Terrorism role

Safetravel travel advisories 

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 18 December 2018

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