Herald catch NZDF out in war crime lie


Last week the NZDF admitted they were wrong about claims the photos used by Hager & Stephenson  were false. Today they have now admitted that they conducted a military operation in the exact same place Hager & Stephenson claimed war crimes were committed…

NZDF confirms photos in ‘Hit & Run’ was where Operation Burnham took place

Satellite imagery obtained by the Herald shows that villages pictured in the book Hit & Runare the locations where Operation Burnham took place.

A new NZ Herald interactive details the geographic location in which the authors of the book and the New Zealand Defence Force argued where the infamous Operation Burnham took place in Afghanistan.

Last week the NZDF confirmed the photos in the book were in fact the same location where the mission took place.

…the week after the book was released,  Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating fronted the media and told the country Hager & Stephenson were wrong…

“The central premise of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book, Hit & Run, is incorrect …”

“NZDF troops never operated in the two villages identified in the book as having been the scene of combat operations and civilian casualties,”

…is the Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating a manipulative liar?

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Let’s remember the context.

Months before the 2017 election, Hager & Stephenson detail a revenge raid by the SAS that was poorly planned with wrong intel. Instead of catching insurgents, the NZ SAS killed and wounded 21 mainly women and children Afghan civilians while burning down their village.

The entire fiasco was personally signed off by Sir John Key.

The NZ media are still missing in action on this story and its legal ramifications which leads to the question, can the mainstream media in NZ ever hold the NZDF to account?

Based on our recent past, the answer to that is a resounding no.

If we look to Nicky Hager’s previous work, Other People’s Wars, the insidious ability of the NZ Defence Force to manipulate and co-opt mainstream media into being their propaganda tools is well researched, and unsettling.

Take for example ‘Kiwi Camp’ in Afghanistan 2011. It was sold via the embedded mainstream media as some type of Engineering peace corps rebuilding schools, bridges and wells. Independent reports citing the work we did for the locals called our efforts “poorly planned” and “wildly exaggerated”. Embedded journalists Guyon Espiner and Vernan Small both visited Kiwi Camp and later noted (after being outed by the book) the CIA were using our base as a cover, yet both failed to mention that as anything worth informing NZers about. The CIA were using our base as a front because Provincial Reconstruction Teams don’t get attacked the way Forward Operating bases do, but neither journalist thought that manipulation was news worthy at the time.

The media’s self censoring compliance with the NZDF and their willingness to don flak jackets and helmets to play the intrepid journalist shtick is actually part of the problem.

From Other People’s Wars

having CIA operatives inside the Kiwi base fitted poorly with the deployment’s stated goals. Why would the New Zealand authorities risk the New Zealanders working at Kiwi Base, and the credibility of the New Zealand peacekeeping mission, by mixing them up with a CIA operation? After the suicide attack on the FOB [forward operating base] Chapman, the issue of CIA operations inside a provincial reconstruction team was widely discussed. The Times wrote that “PRTs have been criticised widely for endangering civilian aid workers by blurring the line between development staff and the military.

…John Armstrong probably summed up the media’s inability to look past the war PR spin best with his 2011 column on the book, ‘Candyfloss’ PR exposed in all its cynicism

Those who think Nicky Hager is just another left-wing stirrer and dismiss his latest book accordingly should think again.

Likewise, the country’s politicians should read Other People’s Wars before condemning it.

Whatever Hager’s motive for investigating New Zealand’s contribution over the past decade to the United States-led “war on terror”, it is pretty irrelevant when placed alongside the mountain of previously confidential and very disturbing information his assiduous research and inquiries have uncovered.

With the help of well-placed informants and thousands of leaked documents, Hager exposes the cynical manner in which the Defence Force has purposely misled the public by omission of pertinent facts and public relations flannel.

This is particularly the case with regard to the “candyfloss” image the military has built around the deployment of New Zealand soldiers in the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan.

That image is of our soldiers acting more like peacekeepers armed with nothing more dangerous than a shovel.

…what was more concerning than our media’s embedded compliance was that the NZ military lied and deceived our own politicians

Defence Force staff responsible for the deployment of Orion aircraft and Anzac frigates to the Gulf in the “war against terror” ignored instructions from then prime minister Helen Clark to keep their operations separate from those being conducted by the United States against Iraq. The book quotes unidentified officials and former diplomats as agreeing that Clark – lacking a strong defence minister – fought a lone battle against never ending efforts by the Defence and Foreign Affairs ministries to rewrite Government policy and buy military equipment which would enable New Zealand to build bridges with the United States.

New Zealand diplomats resorted to underhand tricks when they did not get their way with the last Labour Government. For example, when Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials did not like a particular Government policy decision, New Zealand’s ambassadors in Washington and Canberra were told to sound out the views of the local bureaucrats. The ministry would then tell Government ministers that the Americans and Australians had made it known they were very concerned and there could be “relationship implications”.

…and what of the allegations that NZ SAS were involved in war crimes for handing over civilians to known torture units in Afghanistan? Well, the Journalist who broke that story, Jon Stephenson, was blacklisted and had smears spread about him by the NZDF in an effort to discredit him. So good was the smear and spin, Stephenson shockingly had his defamation case against Lieutenant General Rhys Jones halted by a hung Jury in 2013.

Our media have a sorry history of being played like propaganda sock puppets by the NZDF. Here they are with full and undisputed evidence that the NZDF lied again and where is the wall to wall media focus demanding accountability?

Did NZ military forces commit a war crime, and if they did, then surely the Prime Minister who personally signed off on it must be held to account in front of the UN.



  1. Martyn,

    Thanks for telling us the facts as a past NZDF National serviceman I am appalled by my peers lying about the Operation Burnham operation location and actions.

    This will put a damper on my attendance to this year’s ANZAC Day event. I will hold my head i shame rather than pride that day.

    “NZDF confirms photos in ‘Hit & Run’ was where Operation Burnham took place

    Satellite imagery obtained by the Herald shows that villages pictured in the book Hit & Runare the locations where Operation Burnham took place.”

    • I think you will find there are numerous calls for the government to hold a full independent open inquiry. A big petition was presented in the past week and there have been a number of smaller ones.

    • Probably because there is a perception that just like the government, the MSM largely appear to serve the interests of the rich and powerful rather than inform the public. Also,in these NZDF issues, tellers of truth such as Hager and Stephenson, have been systemically demonised by politicians.

      Many NZ’ers believe that Hager is a conspiracy theorist etc because one big liar said so. Ardern has said she has asked the Attorney- General to see if there is need for an inquiry, but hopefully the legal action being taken by the villagers from Afghanistan will reveal the truth, and NZ will apologise and pay reparation, as indeed we should.

      • Isn’t it amazing how the CIA ensured the term ‘conspiracy theory’ to closedown debate and demonise dissidents?

    • simple Gossie without the media exposing the truth( i.e doing their effing job) there wil be no inquiry as our government of the day will ignore it like all well behaved Blairite’s do. Capeche?

    • The media is being called to account, becasue they were the ones lied too.

      That said, Oh look – Gosman doing a Gosman.

      Same tired manipulation from a far right hack year, after year, after year, after year.

      Sorry moderator, but I’m so tired of this dirty politics from the hard right in this country. Gosman is just another cog in a wheel of amoral tools who distract, divert, and try to move conversations away from the topic on hand.

  2. Perhaps he is now running a little scared and he cannot be confident that all of the NZDF are prepared to lie about NZ’s involvement. The court case is less than a month away also. I see a group of Wellingtonians were handing out leaflets at the defence force building also.

  3. Dr. David Robie writes about a flashback to the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Martin writes about the alleged NZ war crime in Afghanistan. Is there a connection? Perhaps. In 1962 I was a schoolboy in Wellington. I was in a school cadet core [compulsory]. I learned to march, to present arms, to fire live rounds with a 303 rifle, to assemble a bren gun, among other things. It was 16 years after the end of the Second World War. Society was still decidedly military. We were taken under instruction by a member of the Navy for a week. A highlight was a field trip [without teachers] into the bush conducted by this Navy personnel. I remember a campfire being built at one stage, and we all sat around , and he told us stories of his experiences.However it was one story that he told us that riveted my attention .He said that he was off the coast of Malaysia. There was a communist insurgency there at that time. One day the crew were suddenly called to action stations, and they fired dozens of salvoes of live shells into Malaysia. They were never told who they were firing at. We asked him who he thought was the target. He looked troubled, and replied that he thought it was aimed at a Malaysian village that was sympathetic to the Communists. So, if that was the case, men , women and children would have been blown to kingdom come in a scenario that would have been a war crime. That may have been NZ’s My Lei !!!

  4. Top defense appointments in NZ must be approved by the US.

    We have no independence and smoke and mirrors is the best we will get from NZDF and MSM.

    WWI and WWII as well as American invasion of Korea, Vietnam and various Middle East states are all in the same basket and NZ joined in.

    Anzac day is used as a method of glorifying a myth that those wars and bloodshed were necessary, or the slaughter instigated by our involvement was benign or justified.

    A national day of mourning for our stupidity should have very different messages the the ANZAc fiasco and brain washing of our young involved.

    • Sorry, but Anzac Day glorifies nothing. It honours all the brave women and men who went before us, and who made huge sacrifices for what they believed were the right reasons, and who too often paid a terrible price. We must always salute them for that.

      It is a great shame that somewhere in our system of governance or legal system there is no-one with the authority or stature to assemble the Operation Burnham personnel now, in a mediation-type process, and address it all equitably, rather than see NZ possibly feature as war criminals in an international arena.

    • Good news? Good news?

      Who evacuated all of the sick, elderly, and visiting tourists from Kaikoura earthquake? Who evacuated all the displaced personnel from the Christchurch earthquake?

      Who delivered supplies and evacuated sick and elderly personnel from Takaka less than a month ago after Cycling Gita? Fiji? Search and Rescues? Flood relief?

      The Military. The NZDF. You bleeding heat liberals are the real disgrace to this country. Your treatment and lack of support of the NZDF is disgusting.

      All of the allegations in Hagers book are that and that only. Allegations.

      I question at times whos moral compass is really misconstrued at times.

  5. well well well more lies from our military(under the muppet jhonkey parading as a sir) and they( the military) are not the only government agency that is not listening to there new bosses. We have the
    justice, police, oranga tamariki, Winz/MBIE all doing what they like and what they think is right. Yesterday I heard Lisa Owen say on radio, quote
    ‘ if we cant find homes for the kaimanawa horses they should be put down’. Well that is exactly what I think we should to do to some of our media Martyn cull them/put them down.
    Far too much power and abuse of it. Same thing happened with the d-com fiasco under jhonkey. And when d-com said jhonkey was allowing mega data to be collected he was ostracized too many dumb stupid kiwis still voted for this man who now parades as a sir.

  6. Around 4.45p.m. I heard a woman named Paula Penfold on RNZ National speak about the NZDF’s “complicated relationship with the truth” re the Hager-Stephenson book ‘Hit & Run’ & the need for a ‘proper Commission of Enquiry’ into the NZDF’s “complicated relationship with the truth”.

    Ref: https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018637101/the-panel-with-paula-penfold-and-joe-bennett-part-1
    The Panel with Paula Penfold and Joe Bennett

    I think Paula Penfold’s section where she talked about the NZDF’s “complicated relationship with the truth” must be in Part-2, because it’s not in part-1. Worth hearing if you can. In plain language, it simply means that the NZDF head sharang has consistently lied to the entire populace!, & that Nicky Hager & Jon Stephenson have been correct from the get-go!

    Well worth listening to if you can find it – perhaps it will be available after 5 p.m.[but it’s gone 5 p.m. & that part is still not up. I wonder if it ever will be?!]

  7. Hardly anybody cares in Sleepy Hobbitville Down Under, aka as NZ Inc.

    We have OBAMA here, and SIR John Key played golf with him, that is all that matters, as the MSM were up North in droves, trying to get a glimpse of the two, and they interviewed locals, who seemed ‘impressed’ by the rock star kind of celebrity ‘visiting’ them.

    So it goes, in this little country, the MSM are like sycophants towards the rich and powerful, report at great length, so they can live out their addiction to the famous and rich and once powerful.

    Max Key was there too, with his Instagram pics, feeding the social media followers, wow, what a ‘MAN’ of status.

    Who cares about those ‘no hopers’ in a ‘no hoper place’ called Afghanistan, they are not worth much, certainly not the attention of ordinary NZers.

    They rather spend their times shopping, watching sports, doing DIY jobs at home, put on a BBQ, spruce up the fence, chase the opposite sex and watch Netflix movies and shows at night.

    And the SAS soldiers, they are NZ’s ‘heroes’, celebrated also at ANZAC Day, do not ‘pollute’ that day with such sob stories about dead civilians in faraway places, and do not put a stain on their neat uniforms, they are all defending ‘our country’ our heroes.

    Sometimes things may not go quite according to plan, but for Hager to spoil the show, what a nasty little spoiler that is.

    I watched TV, listened to the radio and watched news on the web, leading was OBAMA, nothing much else matters, even Jacinda Dear will meet him later today, shake hands and have a chat.

    We are a ‘praised’ and ‘blessed’ nation, Obama will bring us fame and lots of tourists, as they will watch and follow like the herd, such famous messiahs like Obama, spend their dollars here, and this will trickle down on all of us, I hear the coins drop in my pocket already.

    So forget this story, it will die as soon as it was written.

    And don’t forget, John the Key, he is SIR now, another blessed hero of ours, going into history for good, not Hager et al.

  8. well I’m not a big supporter of Shane Jones but I agree with him on the air nz stuff they need to be held to account. To say no government interferes is a joke when the government owns 52% shares.
    And we have corporate air nz spending big bucks on the Obama trip when they are complaining about losing money on the smaller regions flights.
    They need to be held to the same level of scrutiny as Plunket. I also see middle class Pakeha people from affluent places like Karori and Lumsden have received lots of coverage on their plunket issues where is the balance. Areas like Gisborne that services a much larger population and a much poorer one have a cottage type hospital with many of their cases flown to the Waikato hospital. Now to me this is the same old bullshert look after the pakeha people many middle to wealthy. So these towns and the people that live in them have a big media voice when others don’t. In fact they are neglected. I think our mainstream media need a good kick up the backside just like air nz. I say go Shane Jones do your job you are after all the regional development person.

    • Karori is the biggest suburb in NZ with families dependent upon the Plunket creche because they cannot afford the alternatives – families who cannot afford Op Shop price clothing – a pair of OP Shop sandals in Karori cost double the price of Kilbirnie or Tawa. Families where stressed-out Mums rush their toddlers to some creche before work on cold frosty winter’s mornings because in today’s world two or three incomes are not enough to support a family. Then worry about them at work. Then get ambushed at their PA’s for making too many out-calls checking on their children.

      It is a mistake to think that the NZ government only looks after Pakeha.
      We are part of the growing global phenomenon where a small rich elite cater for themselves, and their own interests, and do not actually care about the have-nots.

      Marc is right, but the thing is,so many people thought that Key was an okay person and supported him while his government created created a social deficit which has kicked them in the guts again and again.

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