Winston Peters' 'inaccurate' tweet on March 15 attack communications fact-checked by X

The tweet was immediately rubbished on social media.
The tweet was immediately rubbished on social media. Photo credit: Getty Images.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' claim that former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern concealed information about communications her office received from the March 15 shooter before his attack has been fact-checked by X (formerly Twitter).

The tweet – which suggested Dame Jacinda hadn't told people that her office received information about the 2019 attack immediately prior to it occurring – has been labelled "inaccurate" by the Prime Minister's Office.

The fact the Prime Minister's Office was emailed the shooter's manifesto before the attack was widely reported at the time. Dame Jacinda mentioned it in a press conference two days after the massacre.

"I was one of more than 30 recipients of a manifesto that was mailed out nine minutes before the attack took place. It did not include a location. It did not include specific details," she said at the time. 

"I'm advised within two minutes of its receipt, in at least my office, it was conveyed directly to parliamentary security. But the assurance I want to give is that, had it provided details that could have been acted on immediately, it would have been. But there, unfortunately, were no such details in that email."

A transcript of the 111 call made from Parliament after the receipt of that email was released on Wednesday during a coronial inquiry into the mosque attacks that left 51 people dead and many others injured.  

Peters, who was Dame Jacinda's Deputy Prime Minister at the time, tweeted on Wednesday evening. 

"We waited until today to find out, for the first time, that the Prime Minister's Office received information about the March 15 terrorist attack before the massacre took place," he said.

"Jacinda Ardern should be called to the hearing and asked to explain this appalling lack of transparency to the New Zealand public - let alone to the Deputy Prime Minister and government coalition partner.  

"This was a crisis event. To keep this basic information hidden is not only unacceptable it is now clearly indicative of how that office worked. The next question is who else inside Cabinet knew and said nothing?"

The tweet was immediately rubbished on social media, and the Prime Minister's Office released a statement calling it "completely inaccurate".

"Mr Peters should remove the tweet and post a correction," a spokesperson for Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

As of Thursday morning, he has not done so. However, the tweet has been fact-checked by X's community notes tool. 

The feature says that readers of the tweet "added context they thought people might want to know".  

"Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had already publicly confirmed on March 16, 2019, that the Prime Minister's Office was sent the manifesto of the Christchurch shooter minutes before the attack. This was widely reported at the time," it said, while also linking to a news article.

Peters appears to be unrepentant though. He posted again late on Wednesday night.  

"For those political apologists and feckless media, 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.  

"To excuse it because it was known at a 'public press conference' the next day, instead of information that should've been shared with the Deputy Prime Minister and coalition partner the day before, is as bizarre as it is biased."

New Zealand First was kicked out of Parliament in 2020, but has secured enough support in the preliminary 2023 election results to return.

While the party isn't currently needed by National and ACT to form a Government, it is likely to be once the special votes have been counted and released on November 3.

National leader Christopher Luxon is currently holding coalition negotiations and has confirmed he has spoken with Peters. 

Luxon is yet to comment on Peters' tweet, but National MP Simeon Brown appeared on TVNZ's Breakfast on Thursday morning.

Brown said it was up to Peters to decide whether to remove the tweet and said the focus should be on the coronial inquiry.

Labour MP Tangi Utikere told the show that National should be answering questions on the matter given New Zealand First is likely to be needed by the party to form a Government.