Assessing Terrorism Threats to New Zealand: The Role of the Combined Threat Assessment Group

Author/s: Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG)
with Foreword by Rebecca Kitteridge 1

Published in National Security Journal, 27 November 2020

Download full PDF version – Assessing Terrorism Threats to New Zealand: The Role of the Combined Threat Assessment Group (444 kb)


This article has been produced by the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG). It provides in detail, and publicly for the first time, a genuinely informed explanation for the origins and function of CTAG. It covers the nature and challenge of threat assessment, the methodology applied as well various iterations of the threat assessments that are undertaken. This leads on to an explanation of how New Zealand’s National Terrorism Threat Level is set. Overall, this article provides an informative and well-rounded explanation of the components that comprise the National Terrorism Threat Level and makes for essential reading for wider public service, academic, and security conscious public and private institutions across the country.

Keywords: Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), Threat Assessment, National Terrorism Threat Level, National Security System


The Combined Threat Assessment Group has been playing a vital role in New Zealand’s national security system for the last 16 years, so I am delighted that the National Security Journal has given the team the opportunity to tell its story; to shed some light on its inner workings and maybe even dispel a few myths.

I have read countless CTAG assessments since I become Director-General of Security, and while a customer in previous roles. I am consistently impressed with the rigour of their analysis and appreciative of the insight they are able to offer key decision makers across government.

The work of CTAG is also well regarded by our partners overseas. The Group boxes well above its weight in comparison to its counterparts overseas, which have much bigger teams and can draw upon significantly more resources. CTAG has become expert at tapping those resources adeptly to build its understanding on the evolving drivers of terrorism and violent extremism in New Zealand and abroad.

Conducting threat assessments is not an easy task. It is a complex job and a big responsibility, especially considering there is no exact science to fall back upon and that assessments rely on incomplete or ambiguous information. I hope this article begins to raise the level of understanding about the likelihoods and probabilities the members of CTAG have to weigh up every day. It is critical work, carried out with dedication to the mission of keeping New Zealanders safe.

1 The identities of this article’s authors have necessarily been withheld due to the nature of their roles within CTAG. Rebecca Kitteridge is Director General of Security (New Zealand).