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New Zealand's Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism Strategy

Bringing our nation together to protect all New Zealanders from terrorism and violent extremism of all kinds.

An overview

New Zealand’s Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism Strategy is about working together to prevent terrorism and violent extremism of all kinds in New Zealand, while ensuring the systems and capabilities are in place to act early and respond when needed.

Central to the Strategy is a comprehensive work programme that focuses on reducing the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.

The overarching strategy encompasses and is supported by:

  • Counter-terrorism work programme.
  • Counter-terrorism implementation plan.
  • Terrorism risk profile.
  • Public information action plan.
  • High-level framework for the prevention of violent extremism.
  • Christchurch Call to action to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.
  • Crowded Places Strategy.
  • National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Strategy.
  • National Security System handbook
  • Counter-terrorism handbook

Our counter-terrorism strategy has a four-fold approach: to understand, work together, prevent, and be ready to respond and recover.

understand – ‘We’re aware and informed’

We detect and understand the threat, while our people look out for each other and know what to do when something happens

  • New Zealanders have the information they need to be aware, engaged and stay safe.
  • Our security agencies have the right capabilities to detect and understand the threat to New Zealand.
  • We share appropriate information across the public and private sector.

mahi tahi
work together – ‘Partnerships are key’

We work collectively as a nation to reduce the risk

  • Our capabilities across government are integrated, effective, efficient, and reflect our values.
  • We work in partnership with the public, communities, the private sector and local government.
  • We work with our international partners to identify and prevent terrorism and violent extremism of all kinds.

Prevent – ‘Prevention is our priority’

We focus our efforts and capabilities on effective, long-term prevention

  • Our inclusive society addresses the causes of violent extremism.
  • We support those in need and promote the rehabilitation of people with violent extremist views.
  • Enabled by appropriate legislation, we act early and proportionately to prevent attacks and keep people safe.
  • We safeguard and build resilience in our communities, especially those at higher risk.
  • Those responsible for the safety of others know and meet their obligations.

ready to respond and recover – ‘We’re prepared’

We take a victim-centred approach, responding swiftly to protect lives and working in partnership to promote recovery

  • We focus on protecting lives and supporting victims.
  • We have the right capabilities and legislation to allow us to respond effectively and efficiently.
  • Our National Security System and responsible agencies are coordinated, practiced and responsive.
  • We look after our people, and support the recovery of individuals and communities.

Counter-terrorism work programme

The Strategy’s focal point is a comprehensive long-term work programme, which has expanded in response to the Christchurch terror attack.

Key areas of the work programme include:

  • Supporting communities to be inclusive and engaged.
  • Reducing racism and hate speech.
  • Keeping communities and crowded places safe.
  • Countering violent extremism online.
  • Reviewing and strengthening counter-terrorism legislation.
  • Improving how agencies appropriately appropriately access and share information.
  • Helping people to be aware of sources of potential harm and to be active in minimising risk.
  • Ensuring people have the right information to keep themselves and others safe from a terrorism incident.

Read our Counter-Terrorism Work Programme 2022 for more information.

Coordinated response

We take a strategic, multi-agency approach to countering terrorism. This requires a wide range of stakeholders to work together, including public sector agencies, communities, iwi and hapu, private sector, local government, media, international counterparts and the security sector.

Government agencies responsibilities:

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet: Connecting and coordinating New Zealand’s counter-terrorism system.

New Zealand Police: Community engagement, prevention, intelligence gathering and analysis, investigation, emergency response, working with domestic and offshore partners, operational lead for reducing risk and responding to terrorism threats domestically.

New Zealand Security Intelligence Service: Detecting, investigating and understanding terrorism threats.

Government Communications Security Bureau: Providing specialist intelligence support to NZSIS and NZ Police terrorism investigations.

Combined Threat Assessment Group: Providing terrorism threat assessments.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Aligning counter-terrorism priorities, foreign policy interests and international obligations to champion our values globally and help keep New Zealanders safe offshore.

Ministry of Justice: Ensuring counter-terrorism legislation is fit for purpose and reflects our values.

New Zealand Customs Service: Enhancing New Zealand security through risk identification and mitigation across borders.

Ministry of Transport: Supporting delivery of a resilient and secure transport system.

Ministry of Defence: Ensuring that New Zealand’s defence activities reduce the terrorism threat to New Zealand’s interests, and that the Defence Force is well prepared to support Government’s response to terrorism events in New Zealand and offshore.

New Zealand Defence Force: Providing specialist tactical and operational capability to counter and respond to terrorist threats.

Counter-terrorism governance and response system

High-level governance is provided through the Cabinet External Relations and Security committee (ERS), and the Security and Intelligence Board (SIB).

In a terrorism event the National Security System will be activated. 

The diagram below describes the governance structure for both the reduction and readiness stream and the response and recovery stream:

Counter-terrorism Governance and Response System

Description of terrorism, violent extremism and extremism

Terrorism: Under New Zealand law, a terrorist act is defined as an ideologically, politically, or religiously motivated act – including, but not limited to, those causing death or serious bodily injury – intended to intimidate a population, or to compel the government to do or not do certain things.

Violent extremism: The justification of violence with the aim of radically changing the nature of government, religion or society. This violence is often targeted against groups seen as threatening violent extremists’ success or survival, or undermining their world view.

Extremism: Religious, social or political belief systems that exist substantially outside of more broadly accepted belief systems in large parts of society, and are often seen as objectionable to large parts of society. Extreme ideologies may seek radical changes in the nature of government, religion or society or to create a community based on their ideology.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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