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New Zealand

New Zealand has specific counterterrorism legislation in place from 2002. At the time of writing, the New Zealand government was seeking to strengthen the law on countering terrorism, including by amending the definition of a terrorist act. There are carve-outs in the existing law for lawful acts in armed conflict and for the exercise of certain fundamental human rights.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Section 5 of the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act defines a terrorist act as one that violates a specified terrorism convention, or that is a terrorist act in armed conflict, or:

if it is intended to cause, in any one or more countries, one or more of the outcomes specified in subsection (3), and is carried out for one or more purposes that are or include advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause, and with the following intention:

(a) to intimidate a population; or

(b) to coerce or to force a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act.

(3) The outcomes referred to in subsection (2) are—

  (a) the death of, or other serious bodily injury to, 1 or more persons (other than a person carrying out the act):

  (b) a serious risk to the health or safety of a population:

  (c) destruction of, or serious damage to, property of great value or importance, or major economic loss, or major environmental damage, if likely to result in one or more outcomes specified in paragraphs (a), (b), and (d):

  (d) serious interference with, or serious disruption to, critical infrastructure, if likely to endanger human life:

  (e) introduction or release of a disease-bearing organism, if likely to cause major damage to the national economy of a country.

The law provides for an exemption if an act "occurs in a situation of armed conflict and is, at the time and in the place that it occurs, in accordance with rules of international law applicable to the conflict".

It is also stipulated that:

To avoid doubt, the fact that a person engages in any protest, advocacy, or dissent, or engages in any strike, lockout, or other industrial action, is not, by itself, a sufficient basis for inferring that the person [is committing a terrorist act].

These carve-outs will not change materially in the proposed new law, but certain amendments are planned to be made to the definition of terrorism. 

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


New Zealand is a State Party to all of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party

There is no regional treaty on terrorism to which New Zealand can adhere.

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

Under the 2002 Act, a person who commits a terrorist offence is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life or a lesser term.S. 6A(4), 2002 Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The New Zealand Police has a dedicated counterterrorism expertise.

In October 2022, the Justice Minister Kiri Allan announced that the Government was planning to strengthen counterterrorism laws to make it harder for people who are known threats to undertake terrorist acts.


New Zealand 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act

New Zealand 2022 Counter Terrorism Legislation Bill