Action Zealandia, New Zealand’s Aspiring Brownshirts

Author: Wilson, Chris & Halpin, James1 

Published in National Security Journal, 19 March 2023

DOI: 10.36878/nsj20230319.02

Download full PDF version – Action Zealandia, New Zealand’s Aspiring Brownshirts (329 KB)


Most far right terrorist violence is now committed by individuals who have radicalised in physical isolation, although often deeply engaged in online extremist communities. At the same time, many far right groups do not engage in terrorism despite the militant views and violent rhetoric of their members. This article contributes to the study of the avoidance of mass casualty terrorism by extremist groups through an in-depth examination of New Zealand’s main white nationalist group, Action Zealandia. The literature on this topic finds that groups sometimes strategize that terrorist attacks would be counter-productive to longer term and more important political goals. Our study of Action Zealandia, based on eighteen months of participation in the group by one of the authors, supports this hypothesis. We contend that groups such as Action Zealandia often see themselves as the seeds of a mass nationalist movement rather than the perpetrators of mass casual-ty terrorist violence. We therefore propose a typology of violent far right extremist actors: Individual Actor; Paramilitary Group; and Terrorist Group. We place Action Zealandia within the Paramilitary Group type, a category of extremist actors that poses a less violent but longer-term risk to society.

Keywords: Action Zealandia, Extremism, Terrorism, New Zealand, Far Right, White Nationalism

1 Chris Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Auckland. James Halpin is a journalist at Stuff, but was an independent journalist at the time of this research.