Far-right expert says he's been warning the New Zealand Government for a long time

An expert in far-right politics says he's been warning the Government about the group's potential to cause harm to New Zealanders for a long time.

Dr Paul Spoonley from Massey University told The AM Show current processes to track members of far-right groups are not working.

"They haven't monitored this guy [alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant], they haven't caught this guy and you've got to ask questions why not.

"The question is whether they have the sufficient resources to track them and I think this case shows that possibly they haven't.

Dr Spoonley says he regularly sends information to security and intelligence agencies, as well as the police, about specific members of far-right groups.

"I've been talking about these groups and the potential for their ideologies and what they do as activists in this community to be taken more seriously for a very long time.

"We really do have to look at the far-right. A third of all people last year who were arrested for... terrorist-related offences in the UK are far-right."

Dr Spoonley also acted as chair of a panel session in Wellington in 2018 called 'Hate and the Internet' which analysed the use of hateful comments online in New Zealand.

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He says the terror attack should be a wake-up call about levels of xenophobia in New Zealand. 

"Last year I chaired a... Government group that was looking at hate speech on the internet in New Zealand. I must say I was appalled, it was really, really bad.

"What I hadn't appreciated was the level of Islamophobic comment that comes from our community."

"If you talk to the Muslim communities in this country and if you look at what's being done, they are constantly experiencing some sort of attack."

Dr Spoonley's comments contrast with Christchurch mayor Leanne Dalziel's, who told Newshub that racism was not commonplace in her city.

"The experience that I was hearing from women who wear the hijab yesterday was that - and I'll use an exact expression - 'Not one word has come out of any mouth towards me to make me feel unwelcome here.'

"I'm not pretending that there's nothing there but Islamophobia was not born here, it has been imported."