Supreme Court Judge Sir William Young to lead Royal Commission of Inquiry into Christchurch terror attack

Supreme Court Justice Sir William Young will chair the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terror attack.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Monday, saying the inquiry will start considering evidence from May 13 and report back by December 10.

The Commission will have a budget of $8.2 million, and will look at areas such as the alleged shooter's use of social media, his arrival and residence in New Zealand, and look at how agencies responded.

"The Government will ensure no stone is left unturned as we examine as quickly as possible how the March 15 attack happened, what could have been done to stop it and how we can keep New Zealanders safe," Ardern said.

"Justice Young, who is a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand – New Zealand's highest court – has the extensive experience and skills required to lead the Inquiry.

Supreme Court Justice Sir William Young.
Supreme Court Justice Sir William Young. Photo credit: File

"I am confident that in his nearly nine years as a judge on our highest bench, Justice Young has the judgement, clarity and care to do the job, with a sound understanding of intelligence issues and experience working in the public eye."

Justice William Young was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1991, to the High Court in 1997, and to the Court of Appeal in January 2004. He became President of the Court of Appeal in February 2006.

Justice Young was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court with effect from 1 July 2010.

What the Royal Commission will look into:   

  • Relevant information from the alleged shooter's time in Australia;
  • His arrival and residence in New Zealand;
  • His travel within New Zealand, and internationally;
  • How he obtained a gun licence, weapons and ammunition;
  • His use of social media and other online media; 
  • His connections with others, whether in New Zealand or internationally.
  • What relevant state sector agencies knew about the individual and his activities before this attack;
  • What actions (if any) they took in light of that knowledge;
  • And whether there were any additional measures that the agencies could have taken to prevent the attack.
  • Whether there were any impediments to relevant state sector agencies gathering or sharing information relevant to the attack, or acting upon such information, including legislative impediments.
  • Whether there was any inappropriate concentration or priority setting of counter terrorism resources by relevant state sector agencies prior to this attack.


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