The Waihopai base

The Waihopai base operated only one satellite dish until 1998, when a second dish and advanced interception capabilities were added to the station.


Keith Locke

Green Party Member of Parliament, Keith Locke, at Waihopai in January 2000.


  • Waihopai is New Zealand’s biggest contribution to America’s wars, most notably in Afghanistan and the coming war on Iraq.
  • Waihopai does not operate in the interests of NZ or our neigh­bours.
  • It is not effectively accountable to Parliament or the people. It is exempt from key provisions of the Privacy Act and Crimes Act.
  • To all intents and purposes, it is a foreign spybase, working for, and providing raw intelligence directly to, the US.
  • Waihopai intercepts and records your international phone calls and e-mail.
  • Waihopai is a waste and blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money.

What does Waihopai actually do?

The electronic intelligence gathering base is located in the Waihopai Valley, near Blenheim. First announced in 1987, it is operated by New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), in the interests of the foreign powers grouped together in the super-secret UKUSA Agreement (which shares global electronic and signals intelligence among the Intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ). Its two satellite interception dishes (shielded by giant domes) intercept a huge volume of satellite phone calls, including New Zealanders’ international calls, plus telexes, faxes, e-mail and computer data communications. It gathers this data from our Asia/Pacific neighbours, and forwards it on to the major partners in the UKUSA Agreement, specifically the US National Security Agency. Its targets include international communications involving New Zealanders. The codename for this – Echelon – has become notorious worldwide. New Zealand is an integral, albeit junior, part of a global spying network, one that is ultimately accountable only to its own constituent agencies, not governments, and certainly not to citizens.

How does Waihopai involve us in America’s wars?

Waihopai’s “Big Ears” cover a vast area of the Pacific. Although Iraq is on the other side of the world, the US military/intelligence network that is planning that war is global and depends on global facilities. Waihopai is strategically situated in the Pacific for spying on several countries, such as Indonesia, that do not support US war plans or the so-called “war on terror”. If New Zealanders disagree with US policies and warmongering, then Waihopai is located right here to monitor our own international e-mails and phone calls and report directly to Big Brother at our expense - because we pay for Waihopai with millions of our tax dollars every year. The Bush Administration has pronounced Intelligence to be the key component of all the wars that it is fighting, or planning to fight, throughout the world. Thus, much more so than any token commitment of the SAS or a frigate, the Waihopai spybase is New Zealand’s key contribution to all these American wars.

Waihopai does not operate in the national interests of New Zealand or our neigh­bours. Basically it is a foreign spybase on NZ soil and directly involves us in America’s wars. Waihopai must be closed.