November 30, 2023

NZ First leader Winston Peters doubles down on bizarre Christchurch terror attack claims with new social media post

NZ First leader Winston Peters has accused Dame Jacinda Ardern of a lack of transparency over the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks.

Winston Peters is continuing to defend his tweets about the Christchurch mosque attacks, now claiming Dame Jacinda Ardern misled the public when she said the Prime Minister’s Office had not been told about the specific locations where attacks were going to take place.

The New Zealand First leader claimed in his most recent post on X that “vital information of the locations of the terrorist attacks were known by the Prime Minister’s Office before it happened – yet the PM the next day said the police couldn’t act because they didn’t have that detail. The mosques weren’t even warned.”

However, the Royal Commission into the attacks said the email did not specify targets. On page eight of the 74 page manifesto that was attached to the email did identify masajid in Christchurch, Linwood (a suburb of Christchurch) and Ashburton as targets.

The Royal Commission concluded about the email and information it contained: “The email to the Parliamentary Service was received too late to enable disruption of the terrorist attack. None of the other information held by public sector agencies could or should have alerted them to the terrorist attack.”

Peters’ tweets have come after a parliamentary staffer gave evidence at the Coronial inquest into the attack in Christchurch on Wednesday and said that six minutes after soon-to-be mass murderer Brenton Tarrant sent an email to the Prime Minister’s Office, a call was made to 111 to report its “concerning” contents.

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand spokesman Abdur Razzaq told RNZ today that the facts were all laid out in black and white and now was not the right time for Peters to be making such statements.

“Winston Peters gave wrong information and at the wrong time. We would like to think that he would be wiser than that,” Razzaq said.

“New Zealand is trying to find out how we can prevent future deaths. That should be the focus. The focus should be on the families, the whānau, who are finding out how their loved ones died, and what happened and why it happened. This is not a time for political posturing.”

Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni has also called for Peters to apologise and called the tweets “a bit bizarre”.

“I would hope that Winston Peters would apologise for those tweets because they are pushing misinformation,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday said Peters’ post was “completely inaccurate”.

“Peters should remove the tweet and post a correction,” the spokesperson said.

As outlined yesterday during the coronial inquest into the terror attack, the terrorist sent his manifesto to the Prime Minister’s Office in an email just minutes before beginning his attack, which killed 51 people.

But Peters, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time of the attack, claimed it was only yesterday New Zealanders found out “for the first time, that the Prime Minister’s Office received information about the March 15 terrorist attack before the massacre took place.”

That was despite it being widely reported by news media. The Herald first published that the Prime Minister’s Office received the email and manifesto at 9.01pm on March 16.

Ardern then confirmed it at a press conference on March 17.

Posting to X last night, Peters accused Ardern of a “lack of transparency to the New Zealand public” and called for her to give evidence at the inquest.

In a second tweet last night at 11.08pm, Peters acknowledged the information had been discussed in a press conference but continued his criticism of the Prime Minister’s Office.

“There is an existing transcript of a phone call made by the Prime Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister at the vital time of a crisis when a terrorist had just massacred innocent people. Not once were we transparently informed of this information – such as the phone call her office made to the police – despite the obvious expectation and clear opportunity,” Peters claimed.

Rachel Maher is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. She has worked for the Herald since 2022.

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