New Zealand's spy agency had 75 warrants in force to keep tabs on Kiwis and foreigners in the last financial year.

The annual report of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), released today, showed that in the 2016-17 year, the SIS had 53 warrants in force related to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

A total of 28 of them were issued in that period, the remainder issued the previous year.

There were another 22 foreign intelligence warrants in force. A total of 12 of those, which apply to foreign citizens, were issued in the 2016-17 year.


The average length of time the warrants were in force was nearly six months for domestic (172 days) and five months for foreign (153 days).

Methods of interception and seizure included listening in on telecommunications, the installation of interception devices including listening bugs, and the taking and copying of documents and other items, the SIS annual report said.

"The information materially contributed to the detection of activities prejudicial to security or produced foreign intelligence information essential to security that was not likely to have been obtained by other means," the report said.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which is the government department tasked with collecting and analysing intelligence information, also released its annual report today.

It showed the bureau had 33 interception warrants in force, 26 issued during the 2016-17 year. The warrants allow the GCSB to intercept communications in the interests of information assurance and cyber-security.

Another 48 access authorisations were in force in the same period. The authorisations allow the bureau to access information infrastructures for the same purpose.

Information infrastructure includes electromagnetic emissions (the radiation emitted by electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones), communications systems and networks and IT systems and networks.

GCSB director-general Andrew Hampton approved the provision of advice and assistance 14 times to New Zealand's other security agencies - 13 times to the SIS (compared with seven in 2015-16) and once to the Defence Force. No advice or assistance was provided to Police in 2016-/17.

This is the last time the GCSB and SIS warrants regime will be reported separately.

The Intelligence and Security Act, which came into force last year, means the agencies are now sharing a new two-tier system.

Type 1 warrants relate to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents and enables intelligence and security agencies to investigate harm such as terrorism, violent extremism, espionage directed against New Zealand, sabotage, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or transnational crime.

Type 2 warrants relate to foreign citizens.