Sports tournaments such as the Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi were a focus for New Zealand's spy agency last year, its annual report revealed.

The Security Intelligence Service's annual report for the year to last June says that work relating to the Rugby World Cup was given priority "at the expense of business as usual activities".

The report was prepared before the RWC was held, but said the SIS had planned extensively for "an increased level of terrorism awareness" during the tournament and had held a rehearsal to test its readiness to deal with a range of situations.

As well as identifying threats to national security, its duties included security vetting of 11,000 people, including caterers, bus drivers, volunteers and hotel staff, who would be close to the teams or dignitaries.


The Combined Threat Assessment Group, which included the SIS, police and Defence had also focused on the World Cup and other sporting events.

It said SIS staff were sent to India for the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games "to provide situational awareness and intelligence to the NZ Government for the duration of the Games which were held in a high-threat environment".

Its staff were also sent to the Cricket World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in February last year.

The report has no detail about specific threats - the report tabled in Parliament is censored so sensitive information is not made public.

Nor does the annual report mention well publicised issues, such as the suspicion a group of students from Israel caught in the Christchurch earthquake were suspected of involvement with the Israeli spy agency Mossad - a suspicion those students rejected.

Although the report did not mention specific incidents of spy activity by other countries in New Zealand, it did say the SIS remained focused on disrupting espionage activities by other countries which prejudiced New Zealand's security.

"A number of intelligence services whose interests we assess as inimical to New Zealand's national security continue to operate in and against this country."

A similar paragraph appears in previous annual reports.

The report did reveal the SIS obtained intelligence of a people-smuggling venture targeting New Zealand and stepped up its work on illegal immigration threats as a result.

The Government introduced new legislation to deal with a mass arrival of illegal immigrants, including allowing them to be detained as a group for processing.

The report also included a statement on the interception warrants in use over the year, which had to be signed by Prime Minister John Key. There were were 21 domestic interception warrants for an average of 143 days each, covering cellphone taps, listening devices, interception devices and copying documents.


Former Green MP Keith Locke joked when he left Parliament that his extensive SIS file would be useful to write his autobiography - but other other people are clearly disappointed to find that the SIS has never heard of them.

The SIS annual report says the agency received 176 requests for information, including 123 under the Privacy Act, which relates to information held about the person making the request.

The report noted that many requests were from people "unknown to the SIS, and others with unconventional perceptions about our areas of interest".

The report said the year's tally was lower than the record 378 requests in 2008/09 - soon after the SIS changed its policy and provided more information about the files they had on people, such as MPs.

But it can still withhold some information on security grounds.