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

in 1975 to consider the application of (then undefined) principles of the Treaty did not alleviate growing contention over Maori Land rights. Contention over Treaty issues was generally peaceful, with occasional skirmishes consistent with protests and policing them. Some publicity was given in the late 1970s to Maori activists thought to have visited Cuba for insurgency training and for some time there was official concern that New Zealand’s ethnic gangs could become politicised.24

In 2000 there was considerable controversy over the activist Tame Iti and others flying to Fiji to support the second military coup there, although they were prevented by Fiji- an authorities from entering the country.25 Their return was delayed by a bomb threat against the Air New Zealand flight they were on, although the origin of the threat was unclear. Race relations undulated in New Zealand during the last decade of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st, but no existential threat emerged from this quarter until 2007 when a police surveillance operation that had been running in the Urewera area for two years was terminated. This is discussed below.

Emerging during the 1990s, and showing itself intermittently into the new millennium were signs of Right-Wing Extremism. Possibly emerging in response to increased Maori activism and increasing immigration, was a ‘skinhead’ presence with nationalist or supremacist views, feeding a variety of generally small white power criminal gangs. There were some racially motivated willful damage and arson incidents against Jewish, Muslim, Maori and other buildings from time to time, as well as assaults and occasional homicides – often years apart. The kernel of terrorism, or politically/racially motivated violence could have been read into some of these incidents, but the Right-Wing ‘movement’ remained small, fractious and unconvincing. Nevertheless, Right-Wing individuals and groups remained periodically monitored by police and NZSIS in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.26

Of the Right-Wing groups that have emerged in New Zealand the most notable was the National Front which held ‘Flag Day’ rallies that never attracted more than 100 people. The Flag Day marches were held once a year (unless they were cancelled), and were often met by larger Left-Wing groups. They also brought Right-Wing members to Police attention, but investigation found little evidence of serious concern. National Front members were sometimes ‘beaten up’ or intimidated by individuals offended by their views.27

In 2005 two men with Right-Wing connections were jailed after vandalising Auckland mosques in the wake of the London terror attacks. They caused an estimated $14,000 of damage and scrawled RIP London on the exterior walls of one of the mosques. In 2008 three men broke into the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) SIGINT base in Blenheim causing $1million worth of damage to voice their opposition to the War on Terror. They were acquitted on a defence of ‘acting in the public good’.28 Both of these actions were cases of intentional damage. Both used the act of damaging