seal of authority / by JoFF Rae



1 a rebellion against those in authority: power, jurisdiction, command, control, charge, dominance, rule, sovereignty, supremacy; influence; informal clout.

2 the authority to arrest drug traffickers: authorization, right, power, mandate, prerogative, license, permission.

3 (authorities) they failed to report the theft to the authorities: officials, officialdom; government, administration, establishment; police; informal the powers that be.

4 an authority on the stock market: expert, specialist, aficionado, pundit, guru, sage.

5 on good authority: evidence, testimony, witness, attestation, word, avowal; Law deposition.


Protecting New Zealand from Terrorist Acts

Counter-terrorism is an important part of the Service's security intelligence work. While the terrorist threat to New Zealand is currently assessed as low, terrorism is a growing international problem. This means that New Zealand needs to take the threat seriously.

There are individuals and groups in New Zealand with links to overseas organisations that are committed to acts of terrorism, violence and intimidation. There are extremists who advocate using violence to impress their own political, ethnic or religious viewpoint on others.

It is important that New Zealand is not used as a safe haven from which to plan or facilitate terrorist acts elsewhere.

The Service’s role

The Service collects intelligence related to terrorist activity and, through its links with other security and intelligence organisations overseas, it monitors as closely as possible the movements of known terrorists around the world.

Also located within the Service is an interdepartmental group, called the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), whose role is to inform government's risk management processes by providing timely and accurate assessment of terrorist and criminal threats of physical harm to New Zealanders and New Zealand interests.

The Service is represented within CTAG, as are other agencies. These include:


New Zealand Secret Intelligence Service methods 


Identifying Threats

The first stage of the cycle is the identification of a potential threat. Threats to security could arise from:

  • long-term circumstances (such as the presence in New Zealand of foreign intelligence officers working under some form of cover), or
  • short-term circumstances (for example, a visit to New Zealand by someone thought to be pursuing a terrorist objective).

Before the Service takes action to investigate a potential threat, there has to be a clear understanding of what that threat comprises, so that any investigation is appropriate and effectively directed.


Setting Objectives

Like other government departments, the NZSIS has a Statement of Intent (SOI). In the case of the Service, because of the nature of its work, this is a classified document which is not publicly available. The SOI sets out the Service's broad objectives. A detailed statement of the Service's security intelligence objectives is also prepared annually.

The SOI and objectives are discussed with the Prime Minister and also with the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament when:

  • the Service's budgetary estimates are presented, and
  • the Intelligence and Security Committee conducts its annual review of the Service's performance and expenditure.

The objectives highlight the specific questions which need to be answered before a threat can be accurately assessed. Once the required information has been identified, it is the job of the Service's information collectors to provide what is needed.


Collecting Information

NZSIS collects information from a variety of places. Some is available from open or official sources, such as the internet, public records and official documents. Organisations, including those in New Zealand and overseas security intelligence organisations, may provide leads or information for NZSIS. Other intelligence is obtained from operations directed by NZSIS, including those that use covert methods of collection. Information is also often received by members of the public who either approach NZSIS or are themselves approached with a request for assistance.

If you think you have relevant information that the NZSIS may be interested in, please use our Public Contribution Form.

Covert Methods of Collection

Covert methods of collecting information (such as surveillance, interception of communications and operations using undercover agents) are used when the information required is of major significance and there are no other means of acquiring it. Such circumstances can arise when organisations or individuals work in clandestine ways to achieve their objectives.

When interception of communications is necessary, a warrant is required. Click here to find out more about Interception of Communications.


Investigating and Analysing Information

Collected intelligence usually comes into the Service as raw data. It is received by investigators who assess its value and significance. Single items of intelligence are often not immediately useful in themselves, but all contribute to building up a clearer overall picture.

The investigators assess all available information and work closely with the collectors to determine what else is needed to progress and resolve a case.


Assessing and Reporting Information

The Service's assessments are passed to Ministers and government departments. They may warn of specific threats, or generally assist policy makers in dealing with areas where security issues need to be considered.


Reassessing Threats

All areas of investigation are re-examined regularly in the light of the best intelligence available. Re-examination might confirm a threat and enable more specific targeting for relevant information. On the other hand, it might indicate that a threat no longer exists, and that resources can be redirected towards more pressing concerns.