GUEST BLOG: Suzie Dawson – Misguided Spying and the New Zealand Massacre


Now that the bodies of 50 innocent human beings are lying in a Christchurch, New Zealand, morgue — gunned down by a heavily armed terrorist — New Zealand media are asking the obvious questions: why didn’t our intelligence agencies know there were xenophobic, murderous, white supremacists on the loose in Christchurch?

“Questions are being asked of the nation’s security services in the wake of a mass shooting described as ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” reports and quotes a University of Waikato professor of international law, Alexander Gillespie, as saying: ‘If it’s a cell we need to ask why weren’t they detected, because that’s why we have security services and it may be that those services have been looking under the wrong rocks.’ ”


According to the same article, in response to the terrorist attack, “A crisis meeting of national security agencies was held at Police National Headquarters in Wellington after the shooting.“

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In the NZ Herald, veteran intelligence reporter David Fisher asked many pertinent questions in an opinion piece titled “Christchurch massacre – what did we miss and who missed it?”
“We need answers,” says Fisher. “The NZSIS [New Zealand’s equivalent of the FBI] – and its electronic counterpart, the Government Communications Security Bureau – have more funding than ever, and almost double the staff numbers they had six years ago. They also now have the most powerful legislation they have ever had.”

We know thanks to the findings of an inquiry by the State Services Commission last December that as many as a dozen government agencies, including the NZ Police, were too busy squandering their resources spying on NGOs such as Greenpeace NZ; political parties such as the New Zealand Green Party and then-Internet Party aligned Mana Movement, as well as on anti-TPP protesters and activists such as myself.

As if that weren’t egregious enough, they were even spying on Christchurch earthquake insurance claimants and historical victims of institutional state child abuse.

An ex-cabinet minister and now chief executive of Greenpeace New Zealand, Russel Norman called it“New Zealand’s Watergate moment.”

Map of crime scene. (Youtube still)

 (Youtube still)

The government contractor engaged to perform the on-the-ground victimization of targets is the notorious Thompson & Clark Investigations Limited — a company I had been publicly naming since April of 2012 for having targeted my independent media team and me. A company that we now know was illegally granted access to New Zealand police databases on thousands of occasions, and that has been linked to the NZ Security Intelligence Services.

Their nefarious activities are not isolated to the private sector. The NZ Police have also been found to have made thousands of warrantless data requests.

In 2014 acclaimed New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager — himself judged by a court to have been wrongfully targeted by the NZ Police as a result of his reporting — revealed in his seminal book “Dirty Politics” that a political network that went as high as the Office of the prime minister of New Zealand– under ex-Prime Minister John Key, who was then minister in charge of the NZ security services — had targeted dozens of journalistsas well as other political targets and issue-based dissenters.

What the police and intelligence agencies of New Zealand must recognize is thus: Journalism is not terrorism. Non-violent pro-democratic activism is not terrorism. Dissent is not terrorism.

Arming yourself with weapons and violently attacking innocent people is terrorism.

Holding to Account

Agencies that for too long have been blurring the distinction between what is and isn’t terrorism, must now be held to account.

I was spied on for my independent journalism and my legal, pro-democratic activism despite having no history of violence, no access to weapons, no weapons training and no extremist ideological beliefs.

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, founder of the Internet Party of New Zealand of which I am party president, was spied on by both the New Zealand and United States governments for as little as a suspected civil violation, alleged copyright infringement.

On Friday, the mania and obsessive hatred of an actual terrorist in Christchurch in possession of automatic weapons, culminated in his posting a racist manifesto online and then live streaming his hate crime in real time. Yet he was never spied on.

While the intelligence agencies were looking in all the wrong places, someone who should have been a target slipped through the cracks.

Let that sink in.

Some will say that as injured parties of the intelligence agencies, we just have an axe to grind and are exploiting this tragedy to criticize them.

But as always, it is those very agencies that have failed their charges, who will be first in line to exploit the news cycle in a quest to justify the provision of ever more money, more power, more resources and ultimately, the ability for them to engage in ever more spying.

The question is, how will they choose to employ those gains once they are inevitably granted?

In the absence of meaningful intervention by oversight bodies or an official inquiry — and if their recent history is any measure — the answer may well be: poorly, undemocratically, and unjustly.

Suzie Dawson is a Kiwi journalist, activist and current president of the Internet Party of New Zealand. She specializes in writing about whistleblowers, intelligence agencies, geopolitics and technology. Her work has been shared by WikiLeaks for the last five years running, as well as by other noteworthy figures. Suzie is the organizer of the #Unity4J movement in support of Julian Assange. Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!  Twitter: @Suzi3D Official Website:


  1. On Friday 15 march 2019 the Children’s Strike for climate which generated thousands of support across the country was dramatically over taken by The War on Terror. If the GCSB and SIS new about the terrorist scum that massacred 50 kiwis then there’d be doing stuff about it, arresting people and covering themselves in glory. They’re not coving themselves in any glory which means that they’re making it up.

    Another thing normal people need to understand is they’re not recruiting to cover themselves in glory and protect the interests of New Zealand’s National Security, they’re just recruiting for themselves, They’re just recruiting for the GCSB and SIS and nothing else. This focus on what the GCSB and SIS may have done is one of the techniques used by The Government to avoid criticism OF the government and real power. If you can blame something on The GCSB / SIS Y’know these kind of robot outfits then you’re doing exactly what the government wants you to do.

    Y’all should be familiar with why the GCSB / SIS are a thing now. They’re rolled out into discourse for what’s called “Plausible Deniability.” So Y’know if the government want to arrest poor brown people you say ok the SIS did or The Police Commissioner came to me with an arrest warrant under the Terrorism Suppression and I had no choice but to sign it. And if something goes wrong then you blame this rogue outfit. And well the GCSB and SIS are just a tool of the executive, they are a branch of the executive that takes its orders directly from the executive to act in ways the provide plausible deniability to sort of keep us all clean and you blame them if something goes wrong and that’s fine. You’ve got collusion to bring down Phill Goff, collusion to get Tim Grosser a job, there’s a rich list of the executives wealthy backers and this agency that does all the shifty underhandedness.

    But when you talk about the GCSB or SIS you should use it as a metaphor for what the executive branch of the government is doing.

    • So what you’re saying is that the spy services are really just jackbooted secret police, enforcing the private agendas of the government of the day? Isn’t that all the more reason to shine a light of critical enquiry on them and their activities? I agree with Suzie that the spooks will probably try to spin this tragedy as an excuse for even more funding and expanded powers for them, and we need to counterspin that, pointing out that the erosion of our civil rights since 9/11 has not only done nothing to prevent this horrific violence emerging from xenophobic, ethno-nationalist movements, but may be one factor contributing to the rise of them.

      • I appreciate those facts that you present. Can I assure you that the thirst for white supremacy and sanatising history can now hold no water thanks to the events 15 March. It’s only a matter of time now that the backdrop of superiority is over taken by hope for the future. A cool, calm and collected leadership moves through these issues mothodically, deliberately and with ferocity and the sense that climate change is still lurking.

        • Money need to be spent on restoring a register of firearms.

          The neoliberal agenda will not stand for taxation increases applied to wealthy, corporate dividends, multinational tax dodgers and the lowering of GST to help basic afford-ability of daily bread for the majority of Kiwis,

          So it looks like a quick response to public outcry will not include a fundamental stock take and tracking of firearms generally as it will cost many million plus enforcement over decades adding up to hundreds of millions.

          Addressing the future after a very long period of ignoring and denying consequences of our past and present policies and actions, will involve many changes, not only to gun laws but the very way we live in a neoliberal dictate with its destructive effect on society and the environment.

          The Christchurch event must no be allowed to over shadow nor sideline a much bigger agenda the young have rightfully given testimony to with direct action out in the public space.

  2. It’s an anarchist cliche that cops don’t exist to protect people, but to protect property, and I’d say that’s even more true of secret police. If you look carefully at who was targeted in Operation 8, Operation Lime, the state-funded spying by Thomson & Thompson, the prosecution of Ahmed Zaoui, even right back to the spying on Keith Locke and SIS breaking in to David Small’s house in 1996 during protests against GATT (, none of those movements were really threatening people, but they were threatening to the power of capitalists to turn everything under the sun into property and profit. Those who have carried out the real examples of terrorism in Aotearoa; the bombing of Wellington’s Trades Hall in 1984, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, and now this mass shooting, did not threaten elite property or profit, and were not under surveillance.

    I agree with Suzie that we need to have a serious political debate about whether it’s time to abolish these unaccountable secret police and restore our full democratic rights.

  3. It would be interesting to see where the GCSB & the SIS spend their budget, hopefully Winston & Jacinda will undertake an extensive Independent review of NZ’s security services ?

  4. Amazing the hysteria created by Kitteridge and john Key about Jihadi Brides it was if 1000’s were leaving the country daily to join ISIS ?

    • key and his PR advises were grooming Kiwis for a wider agenda.

      Them and “us’.

      Keeping a mythical enemy alive and dividing Kiwis from reality.

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