Reconfiguring the Relationship Between Intelligence Professionals and the Public: A First Step Towards Democratising New Zealand’s National Security?

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University
(c) The author/s
The secrecy surrounding intelligence work has meant the relationship between New Zealand intelligence professionals and the public they serve has always been somewhat problematic. Over the past decade, leaks, scandals and a deadly act of terrorism have certainly not improved the public’s trust and confidence in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. While the Government has undertaken several measures to strengthen the credibility of those agencies, including initiating public inqui-ries and bolstering governance arrangements, its current approach is rather limited, has reached those limits and could now be counterproductive. In light of the recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019 to increase public involvement in New Zealand’s counterterrorism effort, we argue that it is time for this problematic relationship between intelligence professionals and the public to be rethought and reconfigured. To that end, we identify several concrete actions that parliamentarians and university leaders could consider taking to actively support intelligence professionals as they foster a society of informed citizens and create new opportunities to bring national security matters into the heart of democracy’s deliberative processes.
Terrorism, Public inquiries, Official secrecy, Transparency, expertise
National Security Journal, 2021