History of ‘white power’ in New Zealand

Sad idiots, or potentially dangerous?

Do a small number of people with extreme views raise the risks that one person will get encouragement to do go beyond extreme rhetoric and do something violent?

Patrick Gower and Newshub have been investigating ‘;white supremacy’ in New Zealand.

Gover’s latest report – Revealed: How white supremacists terrorised New Zealand for decades

Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert says up until now, much of the far-right has often been viewed here as sad idiots.

“They were more sort of bumbling, no one took them particularly seriously,” he told Newhsub.

But there has always been a dangerous element to the white power movement here. Gilbert describes them as “hard-as-nails skinhead street-gang kind of guys” who thrived in the South Island.

The most notorious was the Fourth Reich, which terrorised Nelson and the West Coast.

They were responsible for the murders of young Māori man Hemi Hutley, gay man James ‘Janis’ Bamborough, Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim and Christchurch woman Vanessa Pickering.

Like the Nazis they emulated, most of the skinheads’ venom was aimed at Jews. But then, in 2001, 9/11 happened and the extreme far-right added a new ‘enemy’ to the list. Sociologist Paul Spoonley says this led to new followers.

“They were much more online and they were much more Islamophobic than anti-Semitic. And they were much more internationally connected,” he told Newshub.

It only takes a small number of people reinforcing each others hate and amplifying claimed threats to lead to terrorism.

Joris De Bres was the Race Relations Commissioner from 2002 until 2013.

Alarmed at an increase in threats against Muslims, he repeatedly asked the Government and police to start recording crimes motivated by hatred and racism.

“I don’t think we’re sufficiently aware that we do have people among us who do those things and who have a real and worrying hatred,” he told Newshub.

But when they wouldn’t collect the data, De Bres started collecting it himself. During his time as Commissioner there were more than 100 race-related crimes reported in the media.

“I always had the sense that it was only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

I’m not sure that it’s the tip of an iceberg type scenario. It only takes a few violent extremists to harass and to kill – Brenton Tarrant has demonstrated that it takes just to one to go as far as a violent massacre.

Aliya Danzeisen from the Islamic Women’s Council has been abused many times for her religion and the clothes she wears.

“I’ve had a car drive up on the curb towards me and then swing by laughing,” she told Newshub.

She says the rise of the Islamic State saw a rise in Islamophobia here. So five years ago the Women’s Council wrote a report about the increasing discrimination and sent it to the Ministry of Social Development. She says nothing happened.

She says regular pleas for the police and the SIS to monitor the rise of alt-right groups followed – and were also ignored.

The police had a sudden wake-up call in Christchurch in 15 March. Now they are being proactive.

It’s Sunday morning, and armed police are visiting New Zealanders’ homes as part of the response to the Christchurch terror attack.

“The reason we’re here, it’s basically down to the recent events in Christchurch,” a police officer tells one man.

“A number of people have been identified that we’ve been tasked to go and speak to. You are one of those people.”

But while there have been 13 arrests for sharing the video, when it comes to white supremacy or people linked to it, police say they have made zero arrests. They say the response is about “community reassurance” instead.

I think it is also about putting warnings out. It may seem (and may be) draconian for innocent people to be approached by a number of armed police, it serves a useful purpose – it sends a signal that the police are now looking for signs of extreme views becoming a violent act.

Globally, white supremacy was on the up: the march on Charlottesville was just one symbol of a global movement linked by everyday social media platforms and darker sites like 8Chan.

“They are part of a big international network and that’s a big challenge here in New Zealand, just not realising that we’re now hooked into this conspiratorial, racial vilification, white supremacist network,” Spoonley says.

Of the Christchurch victims, the Prime Minister said: “They are us. This person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”

But he is part of a growing movement in New Zealand.

Blenheim man Joseph Ward has a swastika tattoo and the email handle “Nazi New Zealand”.

“I’ve been told I am you for 30 years.  And now I’m not you… I’m exiled,” he says. “We need to have a national conversation.”

We can start by saying that Ward was getting a false impression that ‘I am you’, probably from within a small bubble – I think most New Zealanders would want his sort of views exiled from New Zealand.  All that has changed is that now he is getting that message.

So the warning signs about white supremacy have always been there – year after year.

But as a nation, we ignored them.

Tarrant has ensured that people who express extreme white supremacy views will be viewed with more suspicion. As they should be.

More on white supremacy from Newshub:



Leave a comment


  1. NOEL

     /  20th May 2019

    The police had a sudden wake-up call in Christchurch in 15 March. Now they are being proactive..

    Bollocks! Police like SIS and GCSB don’t task themselves. Sheet any criticism upstairs where it belongs.

    • Duker

       /  20th May 2019

      Police do ‘task’ themselves- no politician tells them how or what or when on their jobs, except for specific funded projects like Road side breath tests which are paid for by the Transport ministry- less money , then less tests.
      Same goes for SIS/GCSB

      • harryk

         /  20th May 2019

        Duker. Wrong. SIS is not self tasking. Cabinet must make decisions, the responsible Minister/s must task agencies for priorities. SIS and like agencies do not have a roving commission to freelance. Having been tasked by a democratically elected Govt they then need to be adequately resourced for the task. That means both financial and human resources. It takes half a lifetime to develop sources, many SIS agents may not develop a single source able to provide actionable intelligence in their entire careers. If they develop one, they’re doing well. HUMINT is hard, which is why SIGINT is growing. Relying on SIGINT makes us lazy and deskills HUMINT. Both have to be tasked and properly resourced by Governments. Did Govts and Ministers do this prior to Christchurch? The RC’s TOR probably won’t allow investigators to go there.

  2. NOEL

     /  20th May 2019

    For Duker last sentence may be of interest?

    ” The Chief Executive of DPMC is New Zealand’s lead official for national security, and heads the national security architecture. The Deputy Chief Executive Security and Intelligence of DPMC supports the Chief Executive by LEADING and coordinating the national security system in its practical application.
    He oversees the functioning of the system,ADVISES ON NATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTION and ensures that policies, systems and capabilities are up to standard.
    He has a specific role leading and coordinating the New Zealand
    Intelligence Community'”

    • Duker

       /  20th May 2019

      An advisory group of nobodies as the FYI shows
      Officials’ Committee for Domestic andExternal Security Coordination
      (Governance) (ODESC(G))
      The national Security Handbook spells it all out

      Click to access dpmc-nss-handbook-aug-2016.pdf

      Good luck with finding Ministers have a role rather than AFTER a national security event, often they are earthquakes and even oil spills.

      They have an awesome diagram (fig 3) which shows the bureacratic wheels turning ( ha!)

      Its seems they were looking every at once , and missed the obvious

      • Ensuring public safety — providing for, and mitigating risks to, the safety of citizens and communities
      (all hazards and threats, whether natural or man-made);
      • Preserving sovereignty and territorial integrity — protecting the physical security of citizens, and
      exercising control over territory consistent with national sovereignty;
      • Protecting lines of communication — these are both physical and virtual and allow New Zealand to
      communicate, trade and engage globally;
      • Strengthening international order to promote security — contributing to the development
      of a rules-based international system, and engaging in targeted interventions offshore to protect
      New Zealand’s interests;
      • Sustaining economic prosperity — maintaining and advancing the economic wellbeing of individuals,
      families, businesses and communities;
      • Maintaining democratic institutions and national values — preventing activities aimed
      at undermining or overturning government institutions, principles and values that underpin
      New Zealand society;
      • Protecting the natural environment — contributing to the preservation and stewardship of
      New Zealand’s natural and physical environment.

  3. Zedd

     /  20th May 2019

    Amongst all the ‘WAR on Terror’ rhetoric (911 USA).. the whole ‘western world’ seems to have gotten, caught up in the FEAR-mongering about Muslims; as ‘public enemy #1’ ! meanwhile totally overlooking; Neo-Nazis/KKK etc. who were always hiding away, in the shadows.. just waiting to pounce ??

    I hear Joe Biden; called MrT ‘the divider in Chief’ for all his Alt-Right/seperatist rhetoric; even saying that (paraphrased): ‘there are good guys on ‘both sides’ even in their ranks too’ 😦

    The ‘4th Reich’ etc. have been ‘hiding in plain sight’ for decades.. in Aotearoa, esp. Sth Island, BUT usually just seen as ‘the fringe’ & hardly worth a mention, until 15/3/19 😦

  4. NOEL

     /  20th May 2019

    Further for Duker. One of the roles of the SIS is
    “Collecting and analysing intelligence in accordance with the Government’s priorities.”

    • Blazer

       /  20th May 2019

      so when the Govt’s priority is ‘get Hager’…they completely fuck it up!

    • Duker

       /  20th May 2019

      When the government says ‘terrorism’ the SIS thinks Muslims and Maoris

  5. NOEL

     /  20th May 2019

    Further for Duker. GCSB
    “Our work is also guided by Ministerial Policy Statements, which set out principles that the GCSB must apply when planning and carrying out activities.”

    • Blazer

       /  3rd June 2019

      for Noel…the GCSB has admitted they did/do not know the law they operate ..under.

  6. adamsmith1922

     /  20th May 2019

    I am prepared to accept that there are white supremacists in NZ, I am prepared to accept that some are violent thugs, I believe they are bad people, but https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/05/revealed-how-white-supremacists-terrorised-new-zealand-for-decades.html This is Gower posturing in search of publicity and relevance for himself.. This just does not have the ring of reality about it.

    Furthermore there is a substantial amount of racism in NZ, that Iagree with, but much of it comes form Maori, many of whom deny their European ancestry, as they seek to assert their rights over others.
    Plus many Kiwis, both Maori and Pakeha resent immigrants of any kind.
    I have worked in a number of countries around the world. Frankly, the inherent racisim and prejudice across NZ as a whole is appalling.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  20th May 2019

      The media have been running a series on violence and killings in NZ. The percentage ascribed to white supremists is vanishingly small, as is their proportion of prison inmates.

      Gower approaches every issue with an open mouth.

    • sorethumb

       /  20th May 2019

      The more migrants we take the more racist we are called because we make other minorities uncomfortable: “how dare you say I’m not a typical New Zealander”

  7. sorethumb

     /  20th May 2019

    White supremacists are a major beat up
    Someone king hit the big guy. Russel Brown called him a Vulcan

    Keith Ng fails to note that China is closed to new entrants by blood.

  8. Antonio Spamatti

     /  3rd June 2019

    The raise of national movements and extreme right politics is a worldwide phenomenon. Yet it is often unreported by the media. For instance, when the western media covers events in the Donbass, the focus is always on the big bad bogeyman Russia. The fact that there are ultra-nationalists in the Ukranian government, or that far right extremist armed battalions are actually on the government payroll, seldom, if ever, get a mention.

    So it was under this pretext that the Christchurch shootings took place. The P.M. showed her true colours as a politician by announcing that there will be changes in New Zealand’s gunlaws. This instantly diverted the attention of the great New Zealand public, and the media, to hunt down the likes of David Tipple. At the time I found this to be slightly odd. Why not hunt down and question National Front New Zealand, or other of our own far right groups.

    Maybe the answer lies in the fact that the P.M. is the head of the SIS and the responsibility for this event ‘falling under the radar’ lies directly with her. Her reaction is like blaming Zyklon B for the Holocaust.


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