The Changing New Zealand National Security Environment: New Threats, New Structures, and New Research

Author: Hoverd, W.J.
Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

Security Strategy refresh occurring across Government.27 The 2018 Strategic Defence Policy State­ment indicated that the NZDF would also be investing in new cyber capabilities.28 The 2019 budget came with additional funding for cybersecurity in terms of strengthening CERTNZ and the development of the national cybersecurity strategy. Despite all these initiatives, it remains to see how effective New Zealand’s cybersecurity infrastructure actually is and this additional 2019 funding suggests that there is still significant effort required in establishing these infrastructures.

In terms of terrorism, the 15th March 2019 Christchurch attacks on the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre have profoundly changed the nation’s national security reality. The lone attacker managed to slaughter 51 New Zealand Muslims and injure another 49 in under an hour. He livestreamed the attack on Facebook and also wrote a manifesto which he had distributed online. Alongside 51 murder charges and 40 at­tempted murder charges, the attacker has been charged with committing a terrorist act.29 The defendant has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial date is set for May 4th 2020.30 At the time of writing this article, the long term consequences of this attack for national security are still uncertain. The consequences will certainly be a test of our judicial and legislative infrastructures. But it is already evident that the downstream legislative, structural and strategic outcomes resulting from this terror event will pro­duce fundamental sea changes for all those involved in enacting national security for the foreseeable future.

The New Zealand public have already witnessed five direct actions from Government resulting from the attack:

  • National acts of reconciliation with the Christchurch Muslim community31
  • The banning of the manifesto32
  • The banning of semi-automatic and assault rifles33
  • The Christchurch Call34
  • The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques35

All of these government actions deserve more consideration than there is space for here in this article because of their significant downstream impact upon national security thinking and structures. Consequently, detailed investigations of these various actions will inform national security scholarship in the near future. If we discuss them briefly, we can note that significant political and community acts of remembrance, reconcili­ation and unity occurred shortly after the attacks. There was a national outpouring of positive sentiment and goodwill as a response to the attacks that was heart-warming, but nevertheless in need of critical investigation. Sustaining and, perhaps even institu­tionalising, the informal and spontaneous gestures of social generosity, inclusion and integration that occurred after Christchurch could be essential for sustaining goodwill, and creating a socially cohesive population that by celebrating its diversity effectively rejects terror and hate. In terms of hate, the Chief