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Complaints and Disclosures

The IGIS can receive and investigate complaints about the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) or the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)


Who can complain to the IGIS

New Zealand citizens and people who ordinarily live in New Zealand may complain to the Inspector-General about being adversely affected by the actions or omissions of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) or the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

How to make a complaint

You can complain in writing by post, email, phone, or in person. A complaint made by phone or in person needs to be put in writing as soon as you are able to do so. You can also have a representative make a complaint on your behalf, such as a lawyer. 

By email:

By phone: +64 4 460 0030

By mail: Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, PO Box 5609, Wellington 6140

What the Inspector-General will do

Step 1: Initial assessment of complaint

Once a complaint has been received, the Inspector-General will decide as soon as practicable whether to inquire into it. 

The Inspector-General may decide not to inquire if, for example:

  • You have a right of appeal or there is another avenue that you can pursue your complaint and it is reasonable in the circumstances for you to do so (for example, the complaint may relate to an immigration matter that can be challenged through the immigration appeals process)
  • Your complaint relates to a decision that you have known about for more than 12 months
  • The subject matter of your complaint is trivial or the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith
  • The complainant does not have a sufficient personal interest in the subject matter of the complaint
  • In the circumstances, and following preliminary enquiries, an inquiry is unnecessary.

Where a decision is made not to conduct an inquiry into a complaint, the Inspector-General will advise you of the reasons for the decision in writing. If you disagree with a decision that has been made, it is open to you to provide your comments on the decision for the Inspector-General’s further consideration. 

Before deciding to make preliminary enquiries in relation to a complaint, you will first be asked to confirm whether you confirm that your identity and the details of your complaint can be provided to the relevant intelligence and security agency. If you do not confirm this, the Inspector-General may not be able to inquire into your complaint. 

Step 2: Commencing Inquiry

If the Inspector-General decides to commence an inquiry into a complaint, the Inspector-General will write to the Director-General of the intelligence and security agency advising them of the details of the inquiry, and provide a copy of the complaint received. 

Step 3: Evidence gathering

The Inspector-General must conduct inquiries into complaints in private. 

The Inspector-General may receive in evidence any statement, document or other matter that may assist the inquiry. This may include information from the intelligence and security agencies, the complainant, or other agencies with information relevant to the inquiry. 

The Inspector-General also has powers to summon people to give evidence under oath, to require information and documents to be provided, and to enter places occupied by an intelligence and security agency. Any person who gives evidence or documents has the same privileges as a witness does in a court of law and all information provided to the Inspector-General is privileged as if it were provided in court proceedings. 

The Inspector-General also has existing direct access to most of the computer systems of the intelligence and security agencies. 

The Inspector-General will provide a complainant with an opportunity to be heard during the course of an inquiry, or after providing a draft report on the inquiry. 

Step 4: Reporting on results of inquiry

Once relevant information has been gathered, the Inspector-General will prepare a draft classified report which sets out the findings of the inquiry and any recommendations if appropriate. 

The draft classified report will be provided to the intelligence and security agency for their comment. The Inspector-General will also seek the agency’s comment on the unclassified information the Inspector-General intended to provide to the complainant. 

Once the relevant agency’s comment has been received, a draft unclassified report will be provided to the complainant seeking comments before a final report has been prepared. In many cases this final report will not be able to include the full background to the inquiry or the reasons for the Inspector-General’s findings, due to information being highly classified. The Inspector-General will provide as much information as possible in the circumstances. 

The final report will be provided to the complainant, agencies, and the Minister responsible for the intelligence and security agency. 

The Inspector-General’s findings are not binding on the intelligence and security agency, however the Minister must respond to the Inspector-General’s report. 

The Inspector-General will also publish the unclassified report on the inquiry on the IGIS website, but with sensitive information not included, such as identifying information about the complainant. In some instances, due to the classification of the relevant information, the Inspector-General will instead publish a more general comment on the inquiry into the complaint in the IGIS Annual Report.

Complaints from NZSIS or GCSB staff

The IGIS can also receive complaints from employees of the NZSIS or GCSB, if they have:

  • been through all internal processes at the organisation; or
  • the Director-General of the organisation agrees in writing.

A complaint is different to a protected disclosure, which is where a current or past employee of an organisation disclosures serious wrongdoing in that organisation. For more information on protected disclosures, go to the protected disclosures page. 

Complaining with courtesy and consideration

The Inspector-General expects that all complainants will engage with the IGIS office with courtesy and cooperation. The Inspector-General has a zero-tolerance approach to threats, abusive behavior or offensive comments made towards staff. Such behavior may result in the Inspector-General declining to conduct an inquiry into a complaint.    

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