NZ Police making it hard for Kiwis who live in Oz

The following article courtesy of COLFO with permission.

COLFO Dossier

Real-life examples of how arms administration does not match the legislation.

Citizen made to fly to NZ for police vetting, then Police decide not to allow licence for non-residents

28 May 2020


A New Zealander living in Australia returns home a few times every year, and one of his favourite pastimes is going hunting with his New Zealand family.

In December last year, he applied for a firearms licence [renewal]. Police required him to fly to New Zealand to do the test and undertake in-person vetting to make sure he was a fit and proper person.

He came back home, did the test, and was vetted by a Police officer in early March.

After more than a week of delay and inquiries from the application, Police subsequently informed him that they would not progress his application because he lived overseas. They claimed that living in Australia prevented them verifying that he would continue to be a fit and proper person.

They said he must now apply for a visitors’ licence each time he came back to his homeland to hunt.

The problem

Our complainant had already told Police about his situation and that he lived in Australia.

They told him to come to New Zealand for the vetting – which took time and money. That is what is required by the standard process.

Police have reinterpreted the Arms Act and changed their processes, without engaging with those that are affected or seeking feedback from the firearms community.

The law gives Police the ability to provide firearms licences for less than the standard 10 years if the person is visiting New Zealand. Instead of doing this, they decided to deny a licence after an applicant started the licencing process.

What should have happened

Police were right to test and vet our applicant in-person.

Police should be consistent in how they administer the Arms Act. There was no transparency around this change in policy, and the applicant was expressly told he could obtain a 10-year licence if he went through the process.

Natural justice would suggest that at the very least Police should have proceeded with the application on the basis that it had started under a different policy regime.

The Police refunded the licence application. We believe they should have contributed to his travel costs, as he had travelled to New Zealand because they said he must.

Guidance for the LFO community

Keep details of your conversations with Police and challenge them on their legal and policy basis for decisions, especially if they quickly change their minds.



Hunting While Under Covid-19 Level 3 Restrictions

SSANZ is pleased that the government has listened to the call from us and a number of shooting organisations, to allow some form of hunting to take place under Level 3 restrictions. We acknowledge the effort made by NZ First, Act, Game Animal Council, Fish & Game, and NZDA who all used their influence to change the governments’ position.

From 28 April hunting will be allowed provided the following rules are followed:

  • Only on private land, with the owners permission.
  • Only on foot, no motorised transport or helicopters.
  • No overnight hunting.
  • Stay in your local area.
  • Stay in your bubble
  • Maintain physical distance from others of 2m.

Hunting on DOC land is not permitted until we revert to level 2, this is to deter people from going into back blocks and remote areas where they may be at greater risk of injury and also be consistent with restrictions placed on trampers.

The duck hunting season will be delayed to start on the second weekend after reverting to Covid Level 2.  

Shooting while under Covid 19 restrictions

SSANZ Supports Shooting Activities Under COVID – 19 Restrictions Level 3

While it is not possible to engage in all normal hunting and shooting sports while Covid – 19 Emergency Restriction remain in force SSANZ believes that provided sensible precautions are taken there is no reason why some individuals may not participate in some shooting activities during Level 3 and lower.

It may not suit all shooters’ desires, however, we believe that it is better to promote some activity rather than a total ban.  You can read our proposed precautions here.


To the Minister of Police Hon Stuart Nash MP
We request that you make provision for a 6-month extension to expiring firearm licences during the COVID 19 Event in the same way that the Minister of Transport has provided for a 6-month extension to drivers and other motor vehicle licences.
Police have already advised firearm owners that there will be significant delays in processing licence applications and other related permits as a result of the lockdown.
It would seem to us that a simple extension of a firearm licence expiry date would save a lot of stress and anxiety for both licensed owners and police administrators, and avoid the problem of a significant number of owners being in possession of firearms while unlicensed through no fault of their own.
Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand Inc.

Responding to Arms Legislation Bill 2019

In late September the New Zealand Government introduced a new arms control Bill that has dire consequences for firearm ownership and all forms of shooting sports. The Bill contains stricter criteria for licence applicants, increased powers for the police to search for and seize firearms, increased powers for the Commissioner of Police to make new regulations, registration of all firearms, registration of all shooting clubs and ranges, new offences and increased penalties, medical practitioners to report mental illness of firearm owners to police.

The Bill is currently before the Select Committee due to report back to parliament on 10 February 2020.

You can read SSANZ submission to the Select Committee here.


In order to protect their crops and pastures from damage by pest animals, such as goats, pigs, deer, wallabies, turkeys and canada geese, farmers need efficient tools for the job.  Similarly recreational hunters need the same tools to assist in the protection of our native bush. The most effective tool in these cases to humanely dispatch large numbers of animals before they take flight is a semi automatic rifle. Read more here

Cost Recovery for Firearms Licences and other Arms Act Administration

To Right Hon Stuart Nash MP, Minister for Police

 We note in your announcement on Monday 22 July which introduced your proposals for further changes to the Arms Act that you indicated that increases were due in the fees charged for issuing firearm licences and other administrative activities.  You stated that dog registration cost significantly more than a firearm licence, which we concede, but note that the former is a council tax designed to finance local animal control officers and is therefore not a fair comparison.

As you yourself have pointed out the new changes to the Arms Act are all about improving public safety, we would therefore suggest that administration of the Act is largely for the public good and a significant part of the cost should be borne by the public purse, as has traditionally been the case, being split 50/50 with firearm users. The current figures of a total cost of $ 14 M compared to $ 4.1 M received from licence applications may be accounted for by the increased administrative cost of setting up new electronic systems and the reduction in licence applications resulting from slashing the number of testing venues implemented in July last year. We would also point out that the state already imposes additional financial burdens on licensed firearm owners, again in the interest of public safety, in providing security for the safe storage of firearms which is borne entirely by the owner.

Another reason for keeping licence fees low is to encourage people wishing to take up shooting to undertake the process of learning their responsibilities as a firearm owner together with safe handling practice and pass the test to gain a licence.  This process has worked well since 1983 and resulted in a steady decline in the number of unintentional shooting incidents and the elimination of accidents involving young children.  It is likely that a significant increase in the licence fee would dissuade some young people from undertaking the process, yet still see them using firearms in remote rural areas.

We would be interested in your rationale for increasing firearm administration fees beyond the 50/50 split between owners and the public purse that it has traditionally been.


GOVERNING NZ – THE NEW WAY or How NOT to implement new gun laws

  • Tell the public you are banning specific types of gun then rush through legislation banning many more types and refuse to consult with those most affected.
  • Do this before you have worked out how you will collect and destroy the banned guns.
  • Tell the public that you will pay fair compensation, and then pay the people affected much less than a fair price.
  • Make regulations that allow the people affected to modify their guns to be compliant before you have worked out how to do this.
  • Tell the people affected that they can surrender their guns at a gun dealers before you have recruited any dealers to carry out this service.
  • Make executive decisions (Orders in Council) banning certain types of ammunition but allow no compensation for this.

Is it any wonder that law abiding firearm owners are angry, upset and confused?