If the USA spy organisation, the National Security Agency, is working from a surveillance centre in Northland its whereabouts is - quite fittingly - a secret.

The Northland allegation was made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at Kim Dotcom's Moment of Truth show in Auckland on Monday night.

Snowden told the audience: "There are actually NSA facilities in New Zealand. One of them is in Auckland, another is in the north of the country."

It is not known whether a spy base capable of surveilling all and any New Zealanders' emails and other electronic communications would require a large, complex facility - such as the Warkworth Satellite Station from which to operate - a small shed or just a desktop.


One informant who cannot be named told the Northern Advocate she thought the "base" could be a single operative with a smart phone, living a double life in Whangarei and largely out of a job now the trans-Pacific IT cable from USA into Northland had stalled.

Northland's local authorities were in the dark about the existence of a secret spy base.

"I've spoken to our planning team who haven't received any irregular resource consent applications lately," said Far North District Council's communications manager Richard Edmondson.

Whangarei District Council could neither confirm nor deny how much it knew.

"Certainly we do not have any applications or other correspondence with 'Spy Base' written on their covers," spokeswoman Ann Midson said.

"This is not to say that we would be aware of the exact activities taking place in every building in our district."

Beamed in on Monday night by satellite from Moscow, where he is evading US attempts to extradite him on espionage charges, Snowden refuted Prime Minister John Key's claims that "there is no, and there never has been any mass surveillance" in New Zealand.

Snowden said that when he worked for NSA he routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders through a mass surveillance tool shared with national security agency GCSB, called X-Keyscore.


The tool was not used as a means of cybersecurity but to read private emails, text messages, and internet traffic, the former intelligence analyst claimed.

"I know this because it was my full-time job," he wrote on his website before appearing via video link.

Snowden said the spy programme had a filter called Five Eyes Defeat -- the Five Eyes being an intelligence alliance between US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The GCSB had provided mass surveillance data for the system through the 'spy base' Waihopai, he said.

Meanwhile, Northland's newest building that resembles a spy base is MetService's weather radar station in Kaeo.

However, the agency's network operations' manager Steve Knowles said the station was purely for weather surveillance.

Its unique dome was not hiding any secrets.

"The dome protects the dish inside the building," Mr Knowles said.