About

The intelligence and security agencies

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was established to provide independent oversight of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. The Service and the Bureau are New Zealand's primary civilian intelligence and security agencies.

The intelligence branches of the armed services are not subject to oversight by the Inspector-General. Nor are the intelligence units of the Police, Customs, the Ministry of Primary Industries and Immigration New Zealand, or the intelligence reporting and policy units of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Work of the Inspector-General

The Office of the Inspector-General is not part of the intelligence and security agencies. The Insector-General is independent and is not subject to general direction by the Prime Minister or other Ministers.

The Insector-General's work involves:

  • investigating complaints about the intelligence and security agencies
  • conducting inquiries into the activities of the intelligence and security agencies
  • reviewing all warrants and authorisations issued to the intelligence and security agencies
  • reviewing the intelligence and security agencies' compliance procedures and systems, and
  • receiving protected disclosures ('whistleblower' disclosures) relating to classified information or the activities of the intelligence and security agencies.

The Inspector-General can start inquiries on her own initiative, or at the request of the Minister responsible for the intelligence and security agencies, the Prime Minister, or the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. The Inspector-General can also inquire into individual complaints about the intelligence and security agencies. An inquiry can address the lawfulness or propriety of anything done by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service or the Government Communications Security Bureau.

Complaints

The Inspector-General's report on an inquiry is provided to the Director-General of the relevant agency and the Minister responsible for the agencies, currently Hon Andrew Little.  In the case of a complaint, the Inspector-General advises the complainant of her conclusions.

Hon Andrew Little(external link)

Powers of the Inspector-General and access to information

To carry out her work, the Inspector-General has extensive powers to obtain information and documents. These powers include a right of entry to premises of the intelligence and security agencies and access to any records held by the agencies.

In addition, when conducting an inquiry, the Inspector-General can

  • require any person to provide any information or documents the Inspector-General considers relevant to the inquiry, including agency records
  • take evidence from witnesses in private, and
  • summon and examine on oath any person who the Inspector-General considers can give information relevant to the inquiry.

It is an offence to obstruct, hinder, resist or deceive the Inspector-General.

The Office of the Inspector-General

The Inspector-General is an independent statutory officer appointed under Part 6 of the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 by the Governor-General on a recommendation from the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister must consult the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament about a proposed appointment. 

The Inspector-General is appointed for a term of five years and may be reappointed once for a further term of up to three years. As a safeguard on independence, the Inspector-General has protections against removal from office similar to the protections for judges. The Inspector-General may only be removed from office by the Governor-General on an address from the House of Representatives for incapacity, bankruptcy, neglect of duty, misconduct, or failure to hold the appropriate security clearance.

The present Inspector-General is Cheryl Gwyn. She is assisted by the Deputy Inspector-General, Madeleine Laracy. 

Cheryl Gwyn was appointed as Inspector-General for a three year term on 5 May 2014, and reappointed for a three year term in May 2017.  Cheryl has extensive experience in public law and human rights law. Cheryl joined the public service in 2001 and held roles as Deputy Secretary for Justice and then as Deputy Solicitor-General at the Crown Law office.  Previously she was a litigation partner at Chapman Tripp and then at Russell McVeagh. Before beginning her legal career, Cheryl spent six years working as a knife hand at the Hawkes Bay freezing works, followed by a period as an investigator with the Office of the Race Relations Conciliator. Cheryl graduated from the University of Auckland in 1979 with a BA in Political Studies and English and a LLB (Hons). 

Madeleine Laracy is the Deputy Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The Deputy position is a statutory role, prescribed in legislation and the appointment is mage by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the House of Representatives. Madeleine began a three-year term in September 2017. Immediately before this role, Madeleine was Director of the Public Defence Service, which is part of the Ministry of Justice responsible for providing legal aid criminal defence services. It is the largest criminal law practice in New Zealand with more than 150 lawyers throughout the country. Her experience also includes 15 years with Crown Law, which provides legal advice and representation to the government, including leading the Criminal Law team. Madeleine's varied studies include a BA in French and Latin, B Theology and a LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland.   

The Inspector-General and the Deputy Inspector-General are supported by a staff of four investigators, an IT manager/security advisor and an executive assistant/office manager.

A two-person statutory advisory panel to the Inspector-General is appointed by the Governor-General, on a recommendation of the Prime Minister made after consulting the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

Other oversight of intelligence and security agencies

As the Minister of National Security and Intelligence the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, is responsible for the overall policy settings of the intelligence and security sector, chairs the National Security Committee of Cabinet and chairs the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern(external link)

The Minister responsible for the NZSIS and the GCSB, Hon Andrew Little, has Ministerial oversight of the two agencies and approves warrants and other authorisations under the Intelligence and Security Act. The Minister is also responsible for developing Ministerial Policy Statements which regulate the activities of the agencies.

Ministerial Policy Statements(external link)

The Commissioners of Intelligence Warrants, Hon Sir Bruce Robertson KNZM and Hon Warwick Gendall CNZM, approve warrants for activity in relation to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. The Commissioners are former Judges of the High Court of New Zealand.

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament is a statutory committee comprising between five and seven Members of Parliament. The Committee can examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the agencies and conduct an annual financial review. The Committee must include the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

The Auditor-General, Privacy Commissioner and the Chief Ombudsman also have roles in oversight of the intelligence agencies and are among those with whom the Inspector-General may consult about any matter relating to her functions.

History of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

The role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was first established in 1996 and replaced the Commissioner of Security Appeals. At first, only a retired judge of the High Court of New Zealand could be an Inspector-General. Changes to the law in 2013 removed this requirement, established the role of the Deputy Inspector-General, and provided for investigative and administrative staff. Previously the Inspector-General was supported solely by a part-time secretary.

The office of the Inspector-General has been held by the following people:

Hon Laurence Greig (1996 to 2004)

Hon Paul Neazor CNZM, QC (2004 to 2013)

Hon R A McGechan CNZM, QC (July 2013 to May 2014)

Cheryl Gwyn (May 2014 to present)

 

 

 

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