The Ghost of New Zealand’s Terrorism Past and Present

Author: Battersby, J. M.

Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019


The attack on two Christchurch Mosques in March 2019 was met with shock by New Zealanders and those from many other countries. There were clear assumptions expressed in the media, by commentators, politicians and even a few supposed ‘experts’ that this was a new experience for New Zealand. Overseas expertise was instantly sought to deal with a problem apparently not encountered before. This article addresses the assumption of the non-existence of terrorism in New Zealand by outlining its impact here over the past 50 years, and contends that local experience should be given strong consideration in approaching current and future terrorist threats. While the scale of the Christchurch attack was unprecedented, lone actors driven by extremist ideologies to engage in violence to send a political message to New Zealanders, is nothing new. New Zealand would not have been caught so unprepared if it had paid more attention to key events in the recent past, and taken steps to mitigate terrorist risks that could have been foreseen.

Keywords:  New Zealand, Terrorism, Left-Wing Extremism, Right-Wing Extremism, Christchurch, Suppression of Terrorism Act

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