The New Zealand Defence Force says a man who reportedly posted online about forming a terror cell in New Zealand is no longer serving in the military.

And it says it is confident the Defence Force has the systems in place to weed out any extremists in its ranks, after concerns that the Defence Force was being infiltrated by far-right activists.

Yesterday, Australian activist group White Rose Society claimed that a NZ Army soldier, based in Palmerston North, had posted on private message boards online about forming terror cells in this country and purchasing firearms from the black market.

A NZDF spokeswoman confirmed that the man enlisted in the NZ Army as a private in 2014 but said he left in December 2016. His reasons for leaving the military were not known.

Advertisement

The claims about the former soldier came after another NZ Army member was arrested in December at Linton Military Camp near Palmerston North. A far-right, religious group claimed online that he was one of their members.

He has been charged with "unauthorised disclosure of information" which could "prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand", and accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose.

READ MORE:
White supremacist posters appear around Auckland University
Christchurch white supremacist Philip Neville Arps banned from mosques and contact with Muslims
'Significant' rise in tip-offs about racists and white supremacists since March 15, SIS says

The two cases raised concerns that the military had become a breeding ground for extremists.

"Infiltration of the military and police is a specific tactic of the fascist right," said Auckland Peace Action member Valerie Morse.

The NZDF spokeswoman said the Defence Force had "well established mechanisms" to deal with actions and behaviour which breached the Armed Forces Discipline Act or went against the values of the organisation.

All soldiers were required to hold national security clearances - a process which includes backgrounds checks by the NZ Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).

Among the requirements of the vetting process was a requirement that the person "possesses and demonstrates an appropriate level of integrity, that is, a soundness of character and moral principle".

White Rose Society also claimed that the former soldier was also a member of another extreme right group. That group's main public activity has involved sticking posters up at universities and defacing politicians' billboards.

Another person linked to the extremist group, Sam Brittenden, appeared last week in Christchurch District Court in relation to a threat made online against the Al Noor Mosque, where 51 people were killed by a gunman a year ago.

Advertisement

Massey University's Professor Paul Spoonley, who has studied right-wing extremism, estimated that there were between 60 and 70 groups and 150 to 300 core right-wing activists in New Zealand.

He said that a year on from the Christchurch mosque attacks, far-right extremism remained a high-level threat. There was a tendency in New Zealand to see the Christchurch attacks as an aberration rather than something to be guarded against, he said.