Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pushed back on claims out of Australia that intelligence assessments pointed the finger at China's spy agency as being behind the burglaries of Anne-Marie Brady.

A year-long New Zealand police investigation into the affair, looking into three burglaries of the home and office of the University of Canterbury professor, was closed in February with the case officially described as "unresolved".

But last night Australia's Four Corners current affairs TV show said conclusions had been reached behind closed doors in Canberra.

"Government sources have confirmed to Four Corners that intelligence assessments identified China's spy service as the prime suspect behind the intimidation of Brady," the programme said.


The claims were rejected last night by Ardern, the minister responsible for national security, who said she had seen no such assessment.

"This claim is completely wrong. I have received no advice identifying the Ministry of State Security as the prime suspect."

Australia and New Zealand are members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. The Ministry of State Security is the Chinese government agency responsible for foreign intelligence and political security.

Both police and the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service (NZSIS) yesterday declined to answer questions about the claims.

"The NZSIS has a long-standing practice of not releasing details of briefings provided to Ministers or other agencies," a spokesman for the intelligence community said.

A long-running Herald investigation into the Brady case - including breaking news of the burglaries and official suspicions of espionage - has previously disclosed the NZSIS and international policy agency Interpol had been involved.

Rhys Ball, a Massey University lecturer in security studies and former NZSIS officer, said police and the NZSIS had a "pretty good" working relationship and would share information unless it was from classified sources.

Brady, in Washington DC at a conference on China and Russia's interference, declined to be interviewed by the Herald but expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of resolution to her case and said it "shows a vulnerability in the resilience of our democracy".

Burglaries of Brady's home and office in mid-February 2018 - less than 24 hours apart and seemingly targeting digital storage and communications devices - came the day before her appearance at an Australian select committee considering measures to counter foreign interference.

The academic had months earlier risen to international prominence with her Magic Weapons paper detailing a nexus of donations and political board appointments in New Zealand linked to China's international influence operations.

The re-airing of the case comes at a delicate moment in New Zealand-China relations.

Last week Ardern completed a long-delayed flying visit to Beijing, and this week the justice select committee in Parliament will receive a rare briefing from our usually secretive spy agencies on the topic of foreign interference.

Portions of their testimony likely to be held in closed session on Thursday to protect sensitive or confidential information.

Committee chair Labour MP Raymond Huo caused headlines last month when he declined - before rapidly backing down - a request by Brady to make a submission on the subject.

Last week Huo confirmed he would recuse himself when Brady appeared - at a date yet to be scheduled - citing a need to avoid the appearance of conflict due to references to himself in her Magic Weapons paper.

"It is to show my respect, to both Brady, and the entire position. That perception is not good for Parliament's position," he said.

National Party MP and fellow committee-member Nick Smith said he was braced for Brady's evidence to cover the activities of his own party.

"National takes the view that some the evidence that may come before the committee may be uncomfortable for National, and Labour, and New Zealand First - all political parties - but that should not be a consideration."