Restoring Public Trust and Confidence in New Zealand’s Intelligence and Security Agencies is a parliamentary commissioner for security the missing key?


  • Damien Rogers Massey University
  • Shaun Mawdsley Massey University



counterterrorism, intelligence and security, parliamentary oversight, royal commission of inquiry, intelligence sector reform


New Zealand’s two intelligence and security agencies play crucial roles in preserving our democracy and protecting the public from various harms associated with political violence. Scandals involving intelligence professionals likely diminish public trust and confidence in these agencies, which appears to be very low among some marginalised communities and minority groups. While official secrecy is required for sound strategic and operational reasons, it hampers meaningful articulation of the value proposition underpinning these agencies and their work. Reassuring the public is vital for the intelligence and security agencies, given their highly intrusive powers. Rather than more reviews of, increased transparency by, or stronger accountability over the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau, we suggest that a parliamentary commissioner for security is needed to help foster a level of public awareness and build the understanding required for trust and confidence to be restored in these agencies.


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Author Biographies

Damien Rogers, Massey University

Damien Rogers is a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Massey University, Auckland. This article draws on a larger research paper entitled ‘Turning the dial from “social licence” to “democratic security”: New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies and the case for an informed citizenry’, which is available on request from

Shaun Mawdsley, Massey University

Shaun Mawdsley is a PhD candidate in history at Massey University, Auckland.