web analytics

The CIA files on NZ

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, January 19th, 2017 - 26 comments
Categories: Spying, us politics - Tags: ,

As widely reported, the US has just released online 8000 documents (13 million pages) of declassified documents from the CIA.

The records include UFO sightings and psychic experiments from the Stargate programme, which has long been of interest to conspiracy theorists.

The move came after lengthy efforts from freedom of information advocates and a lawsuit against the CIA.

Some of the documents relate to NZ, and The Herald’s David Fisher has given us a fine summary:

Inside the top secret CIA files on New Zealand – who they spied on and what they said

It is a trove of both treasure and trivia, including:
• The CIA’s belief former Prime Minister David Lange accidentally backed himself into a corner on the nuclear-free issue, and US concerns the policy could spread throughout the Pacific.
• That Lange told US officials he believed nuclear propulsion was safe.
• The revelation that New Zealand’s nuclear free stance – for which we were punished for decades – didn’t make any difference to the US from a military perspective.
• A detailed biography of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon and detailed accounting of his pro-US sympathies, including that Muldoon saw himself as a world leader in financial leadership despite “limited achievements” at home.
• The suggestion former US President Ronald Reagan tell Muldoon he was his favoured candidate to win an election during a White House visit.
• A McCarthy-era report into communism in New Zealand – a concern which was present throughout the documents into the late 1980s. …

Mainly historical interest now of course, but interesting to see the world through the CIA lens.

26 comments on “The CIA files on NZ ”

  1. red-blooded 1

    Not many surprises there. Good old master-manager of finances Muldoon! Wage-price freeze, anyone?

    I think they were right about Lange. He was actually pretty soft and reluctant on the anti-nuc policy: it was the strength of feeling within the Party and the strong determination shown by the wider public that convinced him not to dilute it. He also recognised that a populist policy helped to keep people with Labour even when we were so angry about Rogernomics (& remembering that the Nat’s response to those “reforms” was, “We’ll do it harder!”).

    It’d be interesting to know what they were saying about more recent matters. Dirty politics? Key’s resignation? Internet-Mana? I guess we’ll have to wait and (eventually) see.

    • mac1 1.1

      I heard Lange speak at a regional conference of the NZLP. He did not give any indication of reluctance- the opposite in fact, with lots of acute Lange wit.

      • red-blooded 1.1.1

        He was a good speaker, at any time. However, I seem to recall that he tried to arrange a visit from a nuclear-capable (and powered?) US vessel. It didn’t get approved by the party, but he supported a visit from the Buchanan (I recall stickers from the time – “Buck off, Fuchanan!”).

        Here’s a link: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/nuclear-free-new-zealand/nuclear-free-zone

        “Lange sought to soften Labour Party policy on this issue but found little room to move; party activists were unwilling to draw distinctions between nuclear propulsion and nuclear weapons. The mood of the nation was also turning against such political manoeuvring. Lange had hinted to Shultz that a compromise could be reached, and Shultz believed that he had Lange’s assurance that Labour’s policy could be changed. He later claimed that he felt betrayed by the way things unfolded.

        Following confidential discussions over the selection of an acceptable ship, in late 1984 the United States requested that the ageing guided-missile destroyer USS Buchanan visit New Zealand. The Americans hoped that a perception that it was not nuclear-armed would be enough for it to slip under the political radar, and believed they had Lange’s agreement. But on 4 February 1985 the government said no. ‘Near-uncertainty was not now enough for us,’ Lange later explained. ‘Whatever the truth of its armaments, its arrival in New Zealand would be seen as a surrender by the government.’” (Note, Shultz was the US Ambassador to NZ at the time.)

        • mac1

          Thanks for the reply. The first sentence has no supporting evidence to support a very strong assertion.

          Secondly, the article is not attributed. This gives me no idea as to the scholarship or integrity of its author.

          The site states this-“The NZHistory website is produced by a small team within the Research and Publishing Group of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and draws on the experience and skills of some of New Zealand’s leading historians.”

          It’s official, government-approved history but unattributed.

          How scholarly is this?

  2. Anne 2

    I see they are blaming the Labour Party for initially “inciting the anti-nuclear sentiment”.

    The anti nuclear movement was NOT created by the Labour Party. It was an independent movement which began its NZ journey back in the 1960s. It just so happened some members of the Labour Party were also members of the movement.

    Norman Kirk took up the cudgels in the early 1970s but even then the emphasis was much more on French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll rather than the nuclear arms race in general. We had every right to be concerned about those tests because it was our back-yard they were carrying them out in.


    In those years, paranoia ran strong and was accompanied by some very nasty incidents. Quite a few people can attest to being victims and, in some cases, it ruined their personal lives and careers.

    • Carolyn_nth 2.1

      Well this from the article quoted in the post:

      A McCarthy-era report into communism in New Zealand – a concern which was present throughout the documents into the late 1980s. …

      Interesting that the CIA was monitoring the left in NZ (at least) into the 1980s. It’s perhaps therefore interesting that NZ’s own spy and police agencies tend to target left wing campaigns way more than they target right wingers – then and now.

      It’s hard for those of us who don’t have access to current information to know exactly how much influence US agencies and government authorities have on NZ politics and policing.

      But the released CIA documents do give a clue.

      • Anne 2.1.1

        A McCarthy-era report into communism in New Zealand – a concern which was present throughout the documents into the late 1980s. …

        Paranoia was rampant throughout that period but my own ‘investigations’ suggest that it was far more so on the part of off-shore agencies like the CIA who were prevalent in NZ for decades. They were by no means the only ones.

        I have a story to tell which started with my late father (it is a deeply ironic one too) but in this area of activity it is impossible to acquire the information necessary in order to take action against the culprits – even if you know who they were.

        • Carolyn_nth

          But they were by no means the only ones.

          Do you mean there were other offshore agencies like the CIA operating in NZ, or that there were NZ agencies operating that also had some reds-under-the-bed paranoia?

          • Anne

            I refer to other offshore agencies. Take ASIS for example. A former ASIS operative came out of the closet in 1992 and revealed some of her own exploits in NZ in the Australian Womens Weekly. It included climbing a tree outside a Wellington brothel and filming the ‘patrons’ as they went in and out of the entrance – they included several politicians too but she didn’t name them.

            Edit: apparently the police chose to raid the brothel the same night and she recalled clients fleeing in all directions in various stages of undress. 😀

            The French agency (DGSE) had a strong presence here during the Mururoa years.

            • Carolyn_nth

              Ah. OK. Thanks.

              interesting – will watch out for agents up trees – or hanging off the side of buildings…. or maybe these days doing online surveillance?

              Edit: Oh – wait! Wasn’t there a Dirty Politics practitioner looking for dirt from people associated with brothels, not so long ago?

              • Anne

                Tom Scott did an hilarious cartoon at the height of the Muldoon years. He (Muldoon) was lying in his little bed looking terrified while a dozen Russian spies (dressed like Cossacks) were squeezed under the bed … climbing through the window… hanging out of the cupboard… and one was dangling from the light bulb.

                Muldoon hated Tom Scott.

              • Anne

                Wasn’t there a Dirty Politics practitioner looking for dirt from people associated with brothels, not so long ago?

                Wasn’t that the fella (forgotten his name 👿 ) who is very, very, very good friends with Israel?

                If Mossad isn’t already here (and I bet they are), they will be now! 🙂

                • Carolyn_nth

                  Hmmm… well there’s this today from the always reliable (heh) Bomber on TDB:

                  Shalom.Kiwi, the hard right wing Israeli lobby blog in NZ, contacted The Daily Blog yesterday demanding that material they claimed had been hacked from Kiwiblog and Shalom.Kiwi be removed and that they had launched legal action against us with the privacy Commission, the NZ Police and ‘other agencies’. Christ only knows who the ‘other agencies are’

                  • Anne

                    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

                    Somewhat prescient she says immodestly. Well, if Mossad isn’t already here , they better come soon and show the locals how NOT TO GO ABOUT IT!

                • Rosemary McDonald

                  “…people associated with brothels,…”

                  There was a cartoon in one of the Uni papers around that time featuring an employee exclaiming at the sight of her naked client…
                  “How could suck a tiny prick screw an entire country!”

                  Nexus? Craccum? I forget which.

          • Draco T Bastard

            You can guarantee that other nations, including friendly ones that have said that they don’t spy on friends, to have agents here spying on us.

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.2

      “I see they are blaming the Labour Party for initially “inciting the anti-nuclear sentiment”.”

      “Blaming”? I always thought of that episode as Labour’s Finest Hour.

      Where are those ant-nuke Labourites now?

      We still have every right to be concerned about nuclear weapons AND nuclear power.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    The revelation that New Zealand’s nuclear free stance – for which we were punished for decades – didn’t make any difference to the US from a military perspective.

    We weren’t being punished for our anti-nuclear stance – we were being punished for not towing the line. Now that we’ve started towing the US line again they’re patting on the head going ‘good doggy’ and our ‘government’ is wagging it’s tail happily.

    • NZJester 3.1

      Not to mention how the current NZ government has been such a good boy and given the US easy access to spy on all of us. While we fund the New Zealand agency that is meant to be so called protecting us from external threats it is mostly just spying for the US sending tons of digital data every second out of NZ to the CIA. Data that not only includes information about kiwi’s but also all of our Pacific neighbors and China.

  4. Whispering Kate 4

    Nothing surprising here, I wonder how much was redacted before their release. It seemed at the time that the CIA was trying to destabilize the Lange Government but we will never know. None of this stuff sounds imflammatory enough to make NZ pissed off.

    • Anne 4.1

      … the CIA was trying to destabilize the Lange Government.

      No question about it, and David Lange in particular. I guess we will never know the full story but I do remember an attempt to publicly ridicule him when he was in the USA on an official visit. He had some time off and went for a walk. At one point he rested in some long grass and lo and behold… a photo of him lying in the grass appeared in the newspapers accompanied, from memory, with ribald comments. It caused him much embarrassment both here and in the USA.

      I recall he mentioned it in his book (I think) and he inferred there was more to it than just a chance photo but can’t remember the details.

    • Brutus Iscariot 4.2

      Not to mention the fact that it’s 30+ years old.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      After their previous success with Australia:

      The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 was operating against his government. “The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans.” In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”

      On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The “Whitlam problem” was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.

      • mosa 4.3.1

        Then opposition leader Malcolm Fraser was well aware and was advised on how to help precipitate the crisis with American intelligence to assist the downfall of the Whitlam government.

        American interests were deeply suspicious of democratically elected left leaning governments at that time and no doubt saw all of them as a threat and took serious action to destabilise them with Allende in Chile used as an example of what can happen when you fund that countries military to stage a coup and enforce a right wing dictatorship approved by American agencies.

        It would be interesting to see what measures they undertook to undermine the 1972-75 Kirk Rowling government.

        I bet the Americans were busy.

  5. But no mention of who paid for the Cossack adverts that helped Muldoon win the election

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Prime Ministers’ meeting reaffirms close trans-Tasman relationship
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today held their first bilateral meeting in Canberra. It was Chris Hipkins’ first overseas visit since he took office, reflecting the close relationship between New Zealand and Australia. “New Zealand has no closer partner than Australia. I was pleased to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Immediate humanitarian support to Türkiye and Syria following earthquakes
    New Zealand will immediately provide humanitarian support to those affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. “Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by these earthquakes. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones affected,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Pākinga Pā site to be gifted back to local hapū
    An historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika is to be handed back to iwi, after collaboration by government, private landowners and local hapū. “It is fitting that the ceremony for the return of the Pākinga Pā site is during Waitangi weekend,” said Regional Development Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • New initiatives to unlock Māori science and research resources
    The Government is investing in a suite of initiatives to unlock Māori and Pacific resources, talent and knowledge across the science and research sector, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Two new funds – He tipu ka hua and He aka ka toro – set to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Advancing our relationship in India
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for India tomorrow as she continues to reconnect Aotearoa New Zealand to the world.  The visit will begin in New Delhi where the Foreign Minister will meet with the Vice President Hon Jagdeep Dhankar and her Indian Government counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government Northland housing investment to spark transformational change
    Over $10 million infrastructure funding to unlock housing in Whangārei The purchase of a 3.279 hectare site in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals Multiple Northland communities will benefit from multiple Government housing investments, delivering thousands of new homes for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government investment safeguards Waitangi Treaty Grounds
    The Government is supporting one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant historic sites, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, as it continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. “The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a taonga that we should protect and look after. This additional support will mean people can continue to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Battle of Ohaeawai remembered
    A memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars is an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as we head towards Waitangi Day, Minister for Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis said. The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More Police deployed to the frontline
    More Police officers are being deployed to the frontline with the graduation of 54 new constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. The graduation ceremony for Recruit Wing 362 at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua was the first official event for Stuart Nash since his reappointment as Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further support for upper North Island regions hit by significant weather
    The Government is unlocking an additional $700,000 in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island. “We’re supporting the response and recovery of Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Northland, and Bay of Plenty regions, through activating Enhanced Taskforce Green to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • The Princess Royal to visit New Zealand
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed the announcement that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will visit New Zealand this month. “Princess Anne is travelling to Aotearoa at the request of the NZ Army’s Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which she is Colonel in Chief, to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government and horticulture sector target $12b in exports by 2035
    A new Government and industry strategy launched today has its sights on growing the value of New Zealand’s horticultural production to $12 billion by 2035, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. “Our food and fibre exports are vital to New Zealand’s economic security. We’re focussed on long-term strategies that build on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Cost of living support extended for families and businesses
    25 cents per litre petrol excise duty cut extended to 30 June 2023 – reducing an average 60 litre tank of petrol by $17.25 Road User Charge discount will be re-introduced and continue through until 30 June Half price public transport fares extended to the end of June 2023 saving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • More Kiwis in work as rising wages match inflation
    The strong economy has attracted more people into the workforce, with a record number of New Zealanders in paid work and wages rising to help with cost of living pressures. “The Government’s economic plan is delivering on more better-paid jobs, growing wages and creating more opportunities for more New Zealanders,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government boosts fund for Auckland flooding
    The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today. “Cabinet today agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made. Cabinet wishes to be proactive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Cabinet focused on bread and butter issues
    The new Cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new Cabinet line ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister to meet with PM Albanese
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will travel to Canberra next week for an in person meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. “The trans-Tasman relationship is New Zealand’s closest and most important, and it was crucial to me that my first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Australia,” Chris Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government makes first payment to Auckland Flooding fund
    The Government is providing establishment funding of $100,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced. “We moved quickly to make available this funding to support Aucklanders while the full extent of the damage is being assessed,” Kieran McAnulty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government steps up to assist Auckland during flooding
    As the Mayor of Auckland has announced a state of emergency, the Government, through NEMA, is able to step up support for those affected by flooding in Auckland. “I’d urge people to follow the advice of authorities and check Auckland Emergency Management for the latest information. As always, the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Poroporoaki: Titewhai Te Huia Hinewhare Harawira
    Ka papā te whatitiri, Hikohiko ana te uira, wāhi rua mai ana rā runga mai o Huruiki maunga Kua hinga te māreikura o te Nota, a Titewhai Harawira Nā reira, e te kahurangi, takoto, e moe Ka mōwai koa a Whakapara, kua uhia te Tai Tokerau e te kapua pōuri ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Enhanced Task Force Green Approved following Cyclone Hale
    Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) in response to flooding and damaged caused by Cyclone Hale in the Tairāwhiti region. Up to $500,000 will be made available to employ job seekers to support the clean-up. We are still investigating whether other parts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • General Election to be held on 14 October 2023
    The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “Announcing the election date early in the year provides New Zealanders with certainty and has become the practice of this Government and the previous one, and I believe is best practice,” Jacinda ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces resignation
    Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister. A caucus vote to elect a new Party Leader will occur in 3 days’ time on Sunday the 22nd of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago