Report from Operation Burnham inquiry

Inquiry into Operation Burnham

In April 2018 the New Zealand Government announced that an inquiry into Operation Burnham and related matters would be held.

Operation Burnham was undertaken in Afghanistan by NZSAS troops and other nations’ forces operating as part of the International Security Assistance Force in 2010.   

In 2017 the book Hit & Run was published which contained a number of serious allegations against New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel.

The Inquiry has sought to establish the facts in connection with the allegations, examine the treatment by NZDF of reports of civilian casualties following the operation, and assess the conduct of NZDF forces.

In common with all inquiries established under the Inquiries Act 2013, this Inquiry has no power to determine the civil, criminal, or disciplinary liability of any person, or award reparations.  However it may, if justified, make findings of fault and recommend further steps be taken to determine liability.

The Inquiry reported back to the Attorney-General on 17 July 2020. The Government has authorised the release of the report which is now published on the Inquiry website.

RNZ: Operation Burnham: Child killed, but death was justified, inquiry finds

A civilian child was killed during Operation Burnham in 2010, but an inquiry has found their death was justified under international law.

Four others were killed, but the government inquiry could not determine if they were civilians or insurgents.

The Burnham Inquiry, led by Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has also found New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officials did not plot to cover-up the casualties, as claimed in the book Hit and Run by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson.

It did, however, find the Defence Force never corrected claims made to the public and ministers by its personnel that allegations of civilian casualties were “unfounded”, despite knowing it was possible.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has also released its report, which found New Zealand’s intelligence agencies could have done more to help set the record straight.

Read the summary of the findings and recommendations from chapter 1. [PDF, 332 KB]

Read PDF chapters of the report through the following links: 

Read the full PDF of the report in a high resolution, easy to print version. [PDF, 14 MB]

Leave a comment


  1. Duker

     /  31st July 2020

    “”no organised institutional strategy to cover up civilian casualties” but NZDF made several incorrect and misleading statements in briefings to Ministers and to the public.

    What a whitewash…claim some sort ‘organised institutional strategy’ didnt exist and all the BS stories just happened to be put out there including making false stories about the accuracy of the book.
    Cover ups are never ‘institutional’ in the sense they expect , its always a few top people that decide on their own bat and being the army , orders from the TOP have to be followed

    What historically is known is that any “independent inquiry” report is heavily vetted before its released to remove or rewrite conclusions or phrases that dont suit those being inquired into into.
    I wouldnt say I particularly cared about this issue at the time but we cant just keep on having these whitewashes of official actions.
    Will be much the same for the Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack

  2. NOEL

     /  31st July 2020

    So it wasn’t a revenge raid afterall.

    • Duker

       /  31st July 2020

      Yes it was . Why does did SAS pick this village at this time…was it even within its mandate at the time

  3. NOEL

     /  31st July 2020

    “I wouldnt say I particularly cared about this issue at the time “

  4. NOEL

     /  31st July 2020

    “The inquiry has found, however, the operations were not “revenge” raids, nor were they “ill-conceived”.

    There were “legitimate reasons” for the operations, the report said, as Defence Officials had “reliable intelligence” insurgents who had been conducting attacks in the Bamyan province were located in the villages and had plans for further attacks targeted at New Zealand troops and Afghan security forces.

    “The operations aimed to disrupt the insurgent network and improve security in Bamyan province,” the report said.

    Operation Burnham was not an attack on innocent people as claimed in the book But and Run”

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  31st July 2020

      Hager specialises in attributing or implying malign motives – standard Lefty modus operandi.

      • Blazer

         /  31st July 2020

        Dirty politics..rumour and innuendo=standard Righty M.O.

      • Duker

         /  1st August 2020

        Malign motives …. you arent any snow white either
        Just yesterday you claimed some imaginary link between whaleoil and Peters was the reason he ended up with Henry as his lawyer for the Colin Craig case. Most often the reason is they are availabe to take the case for the money offered
        Typical malign comments of yours

        Ignores the main outcome from enquiry, that Hager and Stepheson were right (mostly) while NZDF were deliberately misleading

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  2nd August 2020

          Usual utter tosh delivered with usual rude arrogance. Henry’s assignment to the stranded whale coincided with a spectacular Damascus revelation that caused the BFD to start boosting Winston First. Suspect any money offered to Henry did not come from the whaling industry.


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