Your high profile principle has decided to come to NZ. The first thing that will hit the close protection officer is the Maori culture. A member of the local Iwi (tribe) will be responsible for explaining to your client the local customs, but the close protection officer will still see threats.
There will be a Haka. It is generally part of the formal powhiri (welcome) ceremony and will be very intense, more in line with Kapao pango, – with the throat slitting gesture which had caused a few issues in England recently – and not the more familiar Ka Mate as generally demonstrated by the All Blacks at the start of their international matches. A Haka can come in many versions depending upon the local tribe; Ka Mate is not actually a challenge but tells a story and many are Haka Waiata, or a song.
The biggest ‘threat’ during the Haka will come during the wero (challenge) where up to three or four warriors will advance with Taiaha (fighting sticks, though often wrongly referred to as spears). One of them will place a small piece of branch down on the floor as symbol of peace. This is where is things could get tricky (especially if your client has fallen out with the tribal chief!). The highest ranking person of the visiting group will have to pick up the branch while at same time keeping their eyes firmly on the warrior who placed it there. Not to keep looking is a sign that your words are false. In days of old this would have resulted in loss of ones head, but these days the Taiaha will pass just over (or even through) the hair of the offending person. So you have survived the heart attack that close protection team has been given at the welcoming ceremony of your principle, what next?
No security in New Zealand is armed, unless it is carried out by the police. Also you cannot use any form of physical force or restraint without due legal cause. Security personnel tend to use the law of trespass to implement its force. Trespass allows security (or anyone else for that matter) to remove anyone from a property or premises. When used it gives the operator the right to physically remove, with minimum force, anyone trespassing and to take the personal details of that person ,which only a police office has the normal legal right to do. The trespass law is the most common law used within the security sector.
However, the biggest thing a close protection team will notice in this country is the mindset towards security, which is why many with a military background actually stay out of the industry. Several years ago I worked alongside someone that had gone to Britain to gain his qualifications, and then returned to New Zealand to work. His view of security summarized this general apathy and mindset: “In Britain, when organizing an event, it is generally planned around security and often the police will take their cue from the event security organizer. Whereas in New Zealand they organize everything and then decide how much security will be necessary – it seems that providing any form of security is always the very last topic on the agenda”.
A UK SIA qualification means absolutely nothing to the security industry here, nor does any military, police or special forces background, although that is slowly changing. This may seem a mystery to those security operators that have worked with Kiwis in Iraq or Afghanistan, or through other military contacts where we are generally highly regarded, but it comes back to the mindset of the public and politicians which was highlighted in comments by a former Prime Minister after a group had caused destruction to a number of Mosques in Auckland following the London bombings. She more or less implied that New Zealanders should not worry about any possible repercussions of these destructive events as they (New Zealanders) live in such a safe place.
Even if there is a genuine threat against your client, do not expect the average security guard to look beyond their own little world – in fact many are told to ignore crime or suspicious activity.
New laws being introduced by the government and new standardized training accredited by the New Zealand Qualification Authority are supposed to improve the industry and to some extent they will, as currently all close protection, door supervisors and events security do not have to be licensed. Police have found many people out on bail working security at bars, nightclubs or events and in one recently reported case, two people with serious criminal records were employed by a large security company contracted to look after the police cells. Under the proposed new laws, everyone working in security will have to be vetted and licensed. In 2003 I was invited to attend the New Zealand Security Association’s annual conference.
At that conference a former Australian Intelligence operator gave a keynote speech and afterwards I met and chatted to him. We spoke at length about the mindset of the Kiwis regarding security. The Australian said “but how is it you understand where I am coming from, when the rest of the country does not!” New Zealanders simply (and naively) assume it won’t happen here. Most people are generally not aware that besides the Russian Mafia there are the Triads, Australian Mafia links, Japanese and Vietnamese gangs, Colombian drug connections and of course our own organized crime gangs. There are plenty of possible threats to protect your principle against, but the mindset is “it will never happen to us,” “it will never happen in New Zealand” or “I will never be affected by these crime groups.”
It is not all doom and gloom though. There are a great many excellent operators based here in New Zealand; many former NZ Special Forces, many former NZ army and British police, many operators that have served time in high risk environments including Iraq or Afghanistan and many that have trained in either Britain, South Africa or Israel. We have a highly trained, experienced and extensive workforce – if only we were allowed to do the job and protect the public as they rightfully deserve.
Haere Atu. (One Maori version of goodbye)
Security in New Zealand
By: Ken ‘Dusty’ Duncan