New Zealand's top spy boss has warned there is a "realistic possibility" that the Christchurch mosque shooter's terrorist actions could inspire another white identity extremist attack.
The country's first annual hui on countering terrorism and violent extremism, He Whenua Taurikura, which has attracted global experts, spy chiefs, senior police bosses and tech players, opened in Christchurch today.
It comes after recommendations in the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the March 15, 2019, terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques.
Rebecca Kitteridge, director general of spy agency the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), spoke as part of a panel examining the "dynamic nature of the terrorism and violent extremism risk".
New Zealand has a responsibility, as a country, to learn lessons from March 15, Kitteridge said, and to reframe what national security could and should mean for Kiwis.
A "mature" national security conversation is critical to be able to respond to a constantly evolving threat, she said.
The March 15 attacks continue to be discussed by white nationalists in New Zealand, she told hui delegates today.
If there is a terror attack committed in New Zealand over the next 12 months, the NZSIS believes it will most likely come from an extremist lone actor who has gone under the radar, not coming to the attention of police or spy agencies, and not giving any forewarning.
It would most likely be carried out using knives, vehicles, or some type of firearms, Kitteridge said.
Two other potential mass shootings were also foiled around the time of the Christchurch mosque attacks, the hui heard today.
Cameron Bayly, New Zealand Police's chief counter-terrorism advisor, said the country came very close to having multiple potential mass shooting incidents" - with one plot uncovered just before March 15 and another a fortnight later.
Police were alerted through reports of firearms from concerned members of the public, with one individual having vowed to carry out a school shooting.
Historian Dr John Battersby of Massey University's Centre for Defence and Security Studies warned that the next terror attack is a matter of "when rather than if" and that New Zealand needs to be mindful that the last terror attack may not help prevent the next one.
The March 15 attacks were a "watershed moment in New Zealand" and have increased the risk of extremist activity, University of Auckland's Dr Chris Wilson said.
It brought other extremists "out of the woodwork" and resulted in a spike of hate crimes against Muslims, said Wilson, who is programme director of Conflict and Terrorism Studies.
He warned that the most dangerous path of radicalisation involves violent "lone actors" outside of groups, especially people who "interact with likeminded others only online", sharing ideas and encouraging each other.
The two-day hui will feature international speakers and experts, including representatives from social media giants Twitter and Facebook, London's Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, the Centre of Excellence for National Security in Singapore, along with Anjum Rahman of the Islamic Women's Council and panellists from the New Zealand Jewish Council, Amnesty International NZ, government ministries and departments and universities.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the event will help build an understanding of the research on radicalisation and to "look at ways we can challenge hate-motivated extremist ideologies".
She also hopes it will facilitate a discussion about our priorities to address New Zealand's terrorism and violent extremism issues.
Ardern, whose flight was delayed by fog at Christchurch Airport and resulted in her address being screened via Zoom, acknowledged the survivors and family of the March 15 terror attacks present at the hui today.
"They were husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters," she said.
"They were loved and valued members of our society.
"But if they are to remain at the centre of our response to March 15 and our efforts to prevent another such event, then we have a lot of work to do."
Terrorism aims to create a sense of fear, but also to shake beliefs and cause division, the Prime Minister said.
"But in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Muslim community in Aotearoa was resolute that the terrorist would not succeed in this regard.
"That determination was then matched by a response from the wider New Zealand public that I could only describe as manaakitanga.
"But New Zealand's outpouring of grief, and the overwhelming sense of empathy and solidarity cannot change the experiences that many members of the Muslim community experienced before that day, and have experienced since.
"And the same could be said for a range of communities who have faced racism and discrimination based on their ethnicity or religion."
A lot of work has been done to improve New Zealand's counter-terrorism responses, Ardern said, recently shaped by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into March 15 which in December made 44 recommendations covering both national security and wider social and community matters.
She also highlighted the banning of military style semi-automatic weapons after March 15, the Christchurch Call which has increased pressure on online platforms to address terrorist and violent extremist content, as well as the recently-introduced Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill which ensures New Zealand has the right legislative means to help prevent and respond to terrorism.
"We want to support communities to welcome diversity, and to feel able to share and discuss sometimes different points of view in a constructive and respectful way," Ardern said.
"But the lived experience of far too many of our communities does not align with this vision.
"That is why we have work to do."
This afternoon, a panel featuring senior representatives from NZME, Stuff and Radio NZ will participate in a session entitled, Role of the media: building cultural understanding and countering violent extremism.