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Ardern: Bespoke response needed to counter violent extremism

November 1, 2022
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

A bespoke response to threats of terrorism and violent extremism is needed in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.


Ardern's comments come after she was the keynote speaker at the country's annual hui on countering terrorism and violent extremism.

He Whenua Taurikura Hui 2022 got underway in Auckland this morning.

Members of the Māori, Pasifika, Jewish, Muslim, rainbow, and many more communities are gathering at the Cordis Hotel for the two-day event.

Earlier today, the widow of the final victim in 2019's terrorist attack said things have not improved for New Zealand Muslims.

Hamimah Ahmat was recently exercising in Christchurch when a passing motorist screamed at her to go back to her country.

"That shook me, I just had to sit down and let myself calm down."

Ardern said it was "very clear" it wasn't enough to just "pick up" how other countries responded to threats of terrorism or violence.

"[We need to] make sure our response is very much a New Zealand response."

Ardern said New Zealand was a country that didn't believe in mass surveillance and Kiwis protected and deeply guarded their privacy and freedom.

It was important to have a response that identified and acknowledged that potential radicalisation was often "very individualised" and it was important to look at the signs an individual may be showing rather than just focusing on ideology.

Having a range of respondees and including community groups would help identify when radicalisation and potential violent extremism may occur.

Ardern said it was important not to be afraid to talk about possible risks to the county's national security so "we can prepare for them".

"Over the past five years, New Zealand has gone through a lot," she said.

"We've experienced all of the significant issues that are already on our list of national security risks so we understand them because we've been through them.

"I think we are very well-placed to have open conversations around what those risks are and how we can all better prepare for them."

Ardern said it was also clear that New Zealanders had concerns about misinformation and disinformation.

Most were "resilient" to it but it could have "devastating effects".

She said social media sites such as Twitter had a "huge responsibility" and misuse could do "serious harm".

Ardern said she hoped the platform's new owner Elon Musk would stick to transparency - as he had claimed was a focus for him.

But Ardern said it was fair to say "we are in a bit of unknown territory at this point".

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