Waatea News Column: It’s not good enough that our spies are tracking the pandemic – when were they told it was serious?


Over the weekend, Fairfax NZ officially asked our spy agencies, the GCSB and SIS, if they were monitoring Covid19 intelligence globally to know how bad the pandemic might get.

The GCSB and SIS told Fairfax that they had “access to a significant amount of intelligence, including from our international partners. We are providing information and assessments to Government regarding the international context of Covid-19 in accordance with the National Security and Intelligence Priorities”

Ok, but that doesn’t really answer the question because we found out on March 21st that the American Intelligence Agencies were briefing the White House in January that China was minimising what was actually happening and warned of a global pandemic.

Seeing as NZ is part of the 5 Eyes Mass Surveillance Spying program, were we warned in January that a pandemic was coming and if we were, when did the GCSB and SIS warn Jacinda?

If we weren’t warned, why are we in the 5 Eyes program at all?

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

This matters because the GCSB and SIS previously have focused on Māori, Greenpeace, MANA, Green Party and Muslims as possible threats to NZ, yet seem to have missed a global pandemic erupting around the globe.

What is the point of sinking hundreds of millions each year into a mass surveillance state if it can’t see real threats and not the ones they imagine?

Once we have successfully navigated our way through this pandemic, questions must be asked as to what our Intelligence Services knew, when they knew it and who did they inform inside the Government.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. I think you answered your own question, the GCSB and SIS probably focused on Māori, Greenpeace, MANA, Green Party and Muslims as possible threats to NZ, (you forgot the white supremacists, animal activists, people whose house was not fixed in the CHCH earthquake, anybody not slavishly devoted to Beijing and Chinese authoritarianism or US style capitalism). Sadly our government agencies seem more like the thought and economic police in their targets than actual dangerous loss of life in this country.

    Well who needs a media that uses science! Closing the border is so xenophobic! Why should people coming to NZ be quarantined! Instead do the non racist thing and make everyone share the pain in lockdown, while still allowing more people to come to NZ potentially bringing in the virus and not bother to monitor them as resources are being used to check Clark did not bike ride or go to the beach!

    The reason NZ so far has not been as hard hit as other countries seems to be more luck and our low density population and better environment, than good management or strategy!

    Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds

  2. But even more likely, if they did warn Jacinda in January, why was she so slow to protect us at the border?

    • “IF”, indeed! That’s the essence of MB’s article. Was JA told in January or not? I think Someone owes the taxpaying and general public an answer. R u listening, Someone?

      • So rather than Martyn wording this post as an attack on 5 eyes maybe it should be an attack on the PM?
        It all hinges on did the PM know months ago.
        The fact at least one other 5 eyes partner briefed its leader suggests the likelihood.

    • Assuming 5 eyes data is transparent to NZ. And who does the GCSB work for.

      Jacinda made an announcement after a plan had been cobbled together by health and science advisors, then negotiated with Business NZ or “The NZ Initiative” which is a private organisation controlled by offshore money.

  3. What is more important neoliberalism or infection and re-infection? Well so far it seems neoliberalism is more important to many countries (and their spies) than keeping their borders closed to stop the virus spreading internationally.

    The Asian Countries That Beat Covid-19 Have to Do It Again
    Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan had flattened the curve. Then travellers from the US and Europe began reimporting the virus.


    • For those that were hoping for significant social and economic changes in NZ. Think again. No lessons being learned.

      Coronavirus: Government announces planning for ‘future of tourism’

      Ok business as usual then. When can the cruise ships come back! Sarcasm. (after laying waste to Italy and OZ).

      Sunset industries set to continue amidst climate change, so no lessons learned then!

      He also indicated the $35 per person international tourist levy introduced last year is likely to be scrapped.

      Along with the billions of debt for the next generation to pay back, pretty sure that the future generations will also have welfare significantly cut back, and allowing for the further privatisation of the health sector, pension etc. Meanwhile in 2020 the money is allocated to prop up overseas retail giants, cafes, supermarkets and takeaways and tourism in NZ!

      “The New Zealand Government has paid out millions to the giants of retail as part of the wage subsidy scheme.

      Kathmandu, Kmart, Harvey Norman and others have received payouts to cover staff wages during the alert level four lockdown.

      Of the nationwide retailers, Harvey Norman received one of the largest payouts at $12.7 million for its 1850 staff.

      Over $7 billion has been paid out in the last two weeks, more than is usually paid out in unemployment and sole-parent benefits in an entire year.”


      • savenz – Well, knock me down with a feather. This may not tally with what Nelson’s Amy Brooke is blogging, and writing in an Australian publication, about PM Ardern allegedly bestowing preferential treatment upon NZ Maori – or perhaps the coronavirus simply provides an opportunistic excuse to attack PM Ardern, and whip up some anti-Maori sentiment at the same time. And get paid for doing it.

        I could have edited it, because Brooke drags in issues I think not necessarily relevant to the reality which we are now facing out here in the real world – but this is a mouth of the right and I’m not touching it.

        “Jacinda Ardern -and promoting divisive separatism in this country
        Promoting divisive separatism in this country.Why so many of us would now prefer to honour Anzac Day.”


        “In relation to the Covid-19 virus, Jacinda Ardern’s left-wing coalition has reportedly bestowed $56 million on Maori ( but who, now, are legally defined as Maori?) with a much lesser amount of $27 million to go to other welfare recipients. Why?

        The phrase, the silent majority, has long been used to refer to New Zealanders who are not highly vocal, nor stridently demanding – like our customary special interest groups, but who nevertheless, quiet New Zealanders, keep their eye on what is happening to the country. And their patience is running out, noting the continual handouts of hard-earned and undeserved millions of dollars to a noisy minority of part-Maori descent whom it pays financially to keep demanding more and more of taxpayers’ funding. Their appetites are apparently insatiable.

        Our governments appear to fall over themselves to buy the so-called “Maori vote, although there are no longer any full-blooded Maori in New Zealand. Moreover, the Maori economy has been estimated to now be worth approximately $40 billion. For several decades, various forms of compensation, of scores, even hundreds of millions of dollars at a time have been handed over to the larger, then smaller and smaller part-Maori groupings – which was never the intention of the treaty settlements. An increasing number have been questioned, with good reason, as flawed settlements that should never have gone ahead.

        The South Island Ngai Tahu settlement made in the 90s is a very good case in point. Shockingly, the Minister of Treaty Negotiations at the time basically told the Maori Affairs Select Committee to ignore the nearly 400 submissions – many from historians very-well informed indeed, and producing evidence that this claim was basically “a swindle” – a phrase used at the time. However, a clever lawyer, and a tribunal operating like a Star chamber… as the Waitangi Tribunal does – can often win the day. And it did. Quite shocking examples of bias and disgraceful behaviour on the part of some sitting on subsequent Maori Affairs Select Committees have raised the question of basic corruption.

        Yet, in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, this government is repeating the same pattern – preference grants on the basis of race. As usual, there is no requirement from those managing or receiving this grant to return accountability to the taxpayer. Moreover, in what has become an ongoing rort – the majority of part-Maori, now settled throughout, businesses, trades and professions, many of whom also disapprove of what is happening, see nothing whatever of this money. It customarily ends up in the hands of highly politically astute activists, those ostensibly administering it for the benefit of “our people”.

        But who are ” our people”? And throughout these recent decades, what has again and again amounted to theft of this money has been highlighted without cases being brought to court – and without any genuine recompense being paid.

        The most crucial point is that there is no legal definition whatever of Maori. Who is Maori? For obvious political advantage, in the 1970s, the requirement that anyone claiming to be predominantly Maori had to be at least 50% genetically Maori was removed.

        So why does millions of dollars continually get taken from the majority of New Zealanders to be bestowed on supposedly Maori claimants, apparently regarded as less advantaged than those who have no Maori inheritance?

        This is of course not only completely untrue – it is also unforgivably condescending to a very clever, warlike people, the majority of whose ancestors only survived (during a time when internecine warfare and the horrors of cannibalism were widespread) by being among the smartest of their people.

        Arguably their descendants continue to outwit our governments.

        New Zealanders have long endorsed the theory that help should always be given on the basis of need – not on the basis of race.

        Worse, there is not even any definition of of “Maori”… and so many of those applying to control this funding are predominantly European… even with as little as 1/16 or 1/32 of Maori inheritance. Yet our political parties continue to inexcusably endorse what has become the politics of corruption.

        To wantonly throw New Zealanders’ hard-earned money at an ill-defined group of people who have learnt to pull the puppet strings of racial preference, has to stop.

        It’s high time to legally establish who can genuinely claim to be predominantly genetically Maori.


          • She said it, not me. She’s been saying things like that since writing columns for the Dom-Post as Agnes-Mary Brooke – and she and all her ilk may get away with it because they have money – in this case a doctor husband.

            The poor don’t dump on the poor, but the monied can experience very real pain at others receiving anything from anybody. I recall Brooke opposing the minimum wage – and a column castigating clergy for wearing bone carvings – and my talking with that great old activist Rev George Armstrong who thought it might be about him.

            The Maori Council should reply to some of her rants, but I doubt that anyone does.

            • A 200 year old democratic experiment on the brink of collapse has so far been unable to convert an 800 year old Māori culture. The arguments you, Applewood and Aggie out forward has so far, failed to covert DennPaoa.

              I think the reason overshadowing your quint recruiting drive is the governments overstatement of universal funding and understated target funding on Māori affairs. It’s not just welfare it’s a national language, with out it then anyone could show up in Wellington and say this is our capital now.

              The Blood quantum community has almost certainly concluded that Māori are treated far to generously. Any attempt to address the inequality the government has imposed on Māori is vigourously by those who should rightly pay.

              All of this is just standard voter suppression tactics. There’s nothing worth chasing.

              • I’ve not put forward any arguments Sam – this is one of Brooke’s obsessions – and the issues are far too broad to be easily encapsulated in any forum, but the repulsive thing here is using the corona virus to attack Ardern and Maori : the virus should be the focus, and that’s that.

                Not all of us live in secluded little rural retreats, some of us have whanau in the front line; some have hungry children, and some are frightened, and this is not the time to start arguing about the ethnicity of welfare recipients – it is inappropriate – and insensitive.

        • Its better off if you can call yourself an airline ,,,,, then you can get 20 times the amount,

          2 Billion to our airline in this latest CV19 bailout ( there were two other bailouts in recent times )
          500 million to our public health

          Arse about face ,,,,,,,,,,,,

          Far bigger amounts than the dribble and quibble about race ,,,

          MNZGA ,,,,, https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/02-04-2020/let-them-starve-the-lockdown-of-1913-and-its-lessons-today/?fbclid=IwAR0X6I-_je_0jHCW2EqqH6FGsSfHbZDj0LHYB0hWepom95J13POCMyOlYHc

  4. AO/NZ is two things that everyone else on the planet wants with increasing urgency.
    Rich, fertile open spaces with relatively clean water.
    And serious distance from every other fucker who wants to take [it] off us.
    That, is what we risk losing. Our land. ( Many apols @ Maori. Serious. I’m beginning to understand how you must feel. My heart goes out to you. )
    ‘Our’ spies aren’t spying for us. They’re keeping a close eye on any movement toward us from China and South East Asia for peter theil for his mafia mates in the White House in my opinion.

    My other opinion, born of the same combination of a complex range of paranoia’s, of only being informed by my own fertile imagination and a text book full of neurosis, is that covid-19 is just the beginning of a very scary epoch in what will be looked back upon by the few thousand human survivors and a thriving natural world as a necessary evil and shame about the 98% of the human population as it was in 2021.

    Be very warned!
    When the empire building systems of our capitalist exploiters no longer need us, the masses, to go “down’t mine for tuppance a day and be thankful for it” to become that which their diddles dictate they must become then we, the masses, will become redundant and will be, in the immortal words of the narcissistic and amoral orange monster himself, be ‘fired’.
    So, we humans are at nearly 8 billion population on a biosphere which is all we have to call ‘home’ which is in increasingly rising panic and desperation…
    Let me ask? What do you think they’re planning for us?
    A basic living wage?
    Redistribution of wealth?
    Higher taxes for the 1%’ers?
    “Scoot over rothschilds? Here come the Smiths and Browns” ?
    Yeah..? I don’t think so.
    What do we know from the frighteningly rapid spread if covid-19?
    Well, it spreads rapidly.
    It has an alarmingly long latency period.
    We can fight it off if we’re younger rather than older and the only safe approach to it is to hide away from others who may have it and who amongst us doesn’t suspect that everyone by now has it?
    Our health systems are woefully inadequate to contain it, particularly after those public health systems have been hobbled by those who stand to gain the most from private health insurers and private health providers. Are our public health systems able to protect us from a more lethal viral pandemic in ( A very short) time to come?
    If you’re as paranoid as me you might ask what information might have been learned by the ‘Them’s’ from a pandemic that’s rampaged around the planet in just over three months?

    Crashing Global economy + crashing global climate thanks to us and our desperate need for a new and shinier car with big metal bars and bolt on mud flaps + over population within the ‘developing world’ + that booming ‘developing world’ population all wanting a new and shiny car with big metal bars and bolt on mud flaps coming on-line to worsen the already catastrophic.

    It might be a good time to know an alien with a holiday pod on Alpha Centauri?
    Know of any Air BnB’s in the Andromeda Galaxy?
    Might be a great time to hop through that multi – universe portal and find a space where arseholes don’t outnumber good people.

    • CB.
      Peter Theil with arsole friends like parasite key, can choose.

      We ( the rest of us) have let them do as they like.

      Its demoralising for anyone with the ability to see the enormous task of creating change needed.

      Its also defeating to realise that most people lack the necessary to prevent them swallowing what they are told and shown on MSM.

      But cells of like minds are what the SIS want to keep track of. Nothing new there.

      But what the hell when you are long enough in the tooth, either you suffer and die in silence or spend energy getting information resources together, then vent your rage about what the parasites at all levels are doing.

      We are a part of and international plague that can only be wiped out by banding together. They are not scared of you and I but a wider brotherhood out of their control, is a different matter.


      Change will not come from above.

    • Nah , blow space trippin’ with the bug eyed monsters with lazer beams that can destroy whole planets ( we learnt enough about the Vogons in ‘Hitch hikers guide to the Universe ‘ !)…. I’m more concerned when the global stock of booze is going to run out !

      No wine with ones canned spaghetti on toast for dinner?

      Think about , CB !

      Think about it !

      However ,… THIS perspective from your self proclaimed paranoia should actually be the first and foremost thing we should now be asking ourselves…


      If you’re as paranoid as me you might ask what information might have been learned by the ‘Them’s’ from a pandemic that’s rampaged around the planet in just over three months?

      Crashing Global economy + crashing global climate thanks to us and our desperate need for a new and shinier car with big metal bars and bolt on mud flaps + over population within the ‘developing world’…


      This should be ,…what we are now focusing on, esp as Sweden , which has practiced NO lock down and suffered no more than anyone else and in fact has one of the lowest spread rates and mortality rates,… I wonder just what prank the ‘Thems’ are indeed pulling.. perhaps instead of hitchhiking to Betelgeuse or the Andromeda Galaxy we should all swim over to Sweden. Or catch a cruise ship there.

      Far easier, and they say the wines nice on-board as well.

      But the spaghetti isn’t canned so… not so good…

  5. If Boris Johnson was completely ignorant about COVID-19 then one can probably assumed that British’s spies were asleep at the wheel as well

  6. ” If we weren’t warned, why are we in the 5 Eyes program at all ”

    We are a member so that the big boys have all their bases covered.

    New Zealand has the ” basic package ” which means they will share just enough for us too think we are safe while we provide them with all the surveillance info we can gather just too show that we are worthy too be in the club so that they are safe too carry on with ” market dominant government ” and ensuring no one dares too endanger the neoliberal web.

    I have never trusted foreign surveillance since as punishment for our anti nuclear policy the Poms and the Yanks withheld information that could have stopped the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by the French DGSE in Auckland in 1985.

    Our first modern terrorist attack.

    • Kiwis didn’t vote to get into the 5 eyes (FVEY) and have no say about getting out of it. Its about corruption at the highest level.
      “The origins of the FVEY can be traced back to the post–World War II period, when the Atlantic Charter was issued by the Allies to lay out their goals for a post-war world. During the course of the Cold War, the ECHELON surveillance system was initially developed by the FVEY to monitor the communications of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, although it is now used to monitor billions of private communications worldwide.
      In the late 1990s, the existence of ECHELON was disclosed to the public, triggering a major debate in the European Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the United States Congress. As part of efforts in the ongoing War on Terror since 2001, the FVEY further expanded their surveillance capabilities, with much emphasis placed on monitoring the World Wide Web. The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organisation that does not answer to the known laws of its own countries”.[6] Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the FVEY has been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on surveillance of citizens.
      In spite of continued controversy over its methods, the Five Eyes relationship remains one of the most comprehensive known espionage alliances in history”

      So they can do as they like and ignore NZ law monitor and spy on anyone in NZ or the world no matter what age.
      New Zealand monitors Defense Intelligence, DDIS; Signal Intelligence, GCSD; Human intelligence, NZSIS.
      They can also spy on industrial discussions and privileged information. NSA is closely linked with billionaire industrialists and the military industrial complex. They have software to read all manner of encrypted information.


  7. Good article Martyn. like most defense professionals NZ security services are still fighting the last War, if not the war 2x before that. They are not focused on what is good for NZ. They need a complete revamp.

    • Id be happy if they was fighting yesterday’s wars. They’re just bitching amongst themselves, same old same old really. Standards have slipped even among the SAS. It’s and extra ordinary occurrence that an SAS trooper would by tried in public courts for stealing in Afghanistan awhile back. One minute they’re war fighters, the next peacekeepers. I’ll tell you what they don’t want, they don’t want the Greens in number 2 position of the coalition government because that means The Greens will turn them into a coastguard. With two of the largest submarine forces (China and America) in our drink yard it would be an operational transfers ion of the highest order to cut submarine warfare from NZDF, is it any wonder all of them want to see the end of the greens?

      Yknow I like The Greens. But god damn they can they induce a paralysis of ingnorance about power games. Stubborn is what that is, poetical amateurs who can’t play they game.

    • And are they concerned with the global booze stock?- in particular wine?, … or even beer?

      NO !

      So that proves they are worthless and are indeed only in it for one thing and one thing only , – TEA ! They are all a pack of tea drinking totalitarians who have major shares in the global tea market ! This whole thing is to boost tea sales by collapsing the global economy and thereby slanting the tea trade in favour of the west ! This is what this is all about ! Never mind about military installments by China in the South Pacific, – Trump and Johnson are after China’s tea trade.

      And to do it they are even willing to sacrifice global booze production on the altar of neo liberalism, – how absolutely vicious and Machiavellian can they get , I ask you all ?!!?

      Just ask yourselves!…

  8. late night movie:

    ‘Tracking Down the Origin of Wuhan Coronavirus’


    (imo basically the Big Capitalists of the West have been in cahoots with the CCP and China because it is a cheap place to make their goods( bugger the ordinary indigenous workers of Western countries)…the spies are subject to their masters …it is time to rethink trade with China and bring back jobs to the workers of the West…take back our sovereignty and power…NZers rights to work and their place in their economy must be wrenched back ….NZers must come first…for work and housing)….Jacinda is doing a good job looking after Maori who are the most disadvantaged economically and socially…eg work, housing, jail )

    • RB The link you have posted is straight out heavy US based propaganda. It is linked with Falan Gong , CIA and some of the old players in rubbishing China.
      Apart from supposition not backed by actual evidence, misconstructions of events surrounding the Virology research in China and straight lies about China, the whole large budget US promo has several techniques to drag in unsuspecting audience commonly used in PR programmed for shifting public viewpoints.
      Don’t be taken in.

      There are currently two propositions being offered for the coronavius birth place. The Wuhan Institute who have been very open about their work until coming under attack , and the highly secretive US military bioweapons lab who were closed down just as the virus appeared in China. The US will not release any of their data even to clear the speculation of earlier respiratory symptoms in the US matched the covid19 contagion.
      Take your pick or wait till the US data becomes accessible.

      But there are more leads that are being followed up by other national agencies that look show leakage before Wuhan. There are several strains yet only one appears in China.

      Keep up the good work ferreting out various sources.

      Our economy, our consumption, our resources, our workers, our money our resilience, all make our future for as long as it lasts. We use too much energy and that will cease before too long.
      Mike lays it out

      • Yes would agree with you about the USA propaganda bit( looks a bit like a 1950s film on marijuana)

        ….however I spent some time in China and Tibet around the time of the uprising in Tiananman Square ( travelling solo with a partner … and not guided and nicely manicured and blinded by Chinese propaganda !)…we mixed independently and freely with Chinese people and Tibetans

        You do not believe Falan Gong!….I do !…China has a huge human rights problem

        I believe in the essence of this documentary

        I also believe China is expansionist and covets control over all the South Sea Island chains…so beware NZ!

  9. If we weren’t warned, why are we in the 5 Eyes program at all?
    our 5 eyes partners think we are are compromised – “In New Zealand, both the last prime minister, Bill English, and Jacinda Ardern have denied that there’s a problem at all,”

    • 1984 – When the head of the GCSB or the SIS was interviewed – a woman with pearl earrings – and said that she thought that her dept would make a good reality television program, I knew they were all crap.
      Don’t expect the truth on this one.

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