14 September 2020
Our Reference: IR-01-20-24168

Tēnā koe Mike
I am writing to you in response to your request dated 20 August 2020. You wrote:
How many Norinco M305 rifles were imported to NZ?
How many were returned in the buy back?
How many others are accounted for on endorsement?
How many are missing?
How many ex NZ Army SLR rifles were released on the NZ market?
How many were returned in the buy back?
How many others are accounted for on endorsement?
How many are missing?

Imports:
When an import permit is issued, it allows the person to whom it is issued to import the firearms. The permit is ‘current’ for up to a year. While the permit may allow the person to bring a certain number of firearms, the make and model of each firearm are loaded into
the central computer system only after the particular firearms are imported and only if Police is advised of the import by the importer (licence holder) in accordance with Regulation 13 of the Arms Regulations. On receipt of advice, the permit becomes ‘used’.

As the permit is valid for a year, the item(s) could arrive a year after the permit has been issued or arrive in several different consignments throughout the 12 month period.

Advice to Police that the import has been completed could range from 10 days after the product arrived to 30 days or more, or not be provided at all. In that last situation, the permit is recorded in the system as expired even though it is possible that the permit had in fact been used progressively over the 12 month period. Evidence that many importers do not notify of an importation can be seen when a comparison is made between Police record of imports and that held by Stats NZ.

Therefore, if you are seeking information on imports you should rely on the Stats NZ data as supplied to it by the New Zealand Customs Service.
I can advise that Police’s limited ability to enforce Regulation 13 has been rectified through new section 18AAB of the Arms Act. This now makes clear that once the permit is used, it can only apply to multiple consignments that arrive in a period of not more than 30 days between the arrival of the first and the last consignments. This change enables the Customs Service to advise Police of the import as further imports cannot be made on
the permit and Police is now able to issue a notice to importers to remind them of their obligations to report in 30 days. Failure to do so makes them liable for a fine of no more than $400.

The data provided below is based on the import permits that were set to ‘used’ by New Zealand Police.
There is one Norinco M305 firearm that has been recorded on a used import permit.
There are 92 firearms that have been recorded on used import permits and have a make or model that is SLR or L1A1. There is no specific designation of “ex-Army” so it is not possible to answer that specifically, but 32 were Lithgow SLR or L1A1.

Amnesty and Buyback:
The Amnesty and Buyback data is publicly available on the Police website1
. This does not include items that were surrendered through the dealer stock channel or the Unique Prohibited Items channel, and the numbers for these are provided below.

In total, 407 Norinco M305 firearms were handed in during the 2019 Amnesty and Buyback and finalised as at 24 August 2020: 402 Norinco M305s via the public channel, two via the dealer stock channel, and three via the Unique Prohibited Items channel.

In total, 1,128 SLR L1A1 firearms were handed in during the 2019 Amnesty and Buyback and finalised as at 24 August 2020: 1,084 via the public channel, 10 via the dealer stock channel, and 34 via the Unique Prohibited Items channel.

Police did not differentiate between Lithgow L1A1, which were the firearms used by the NZDF, and any other L1A1 that could at any time have been imported into New Zealand, and then handed in under the buyback.
The question about ex-Army rifles being released on the market should be addressed to the New Zealand Defence Force. In accordance with the OIA, New Zealand Police attempted to transfer this question to NZDF but they advised that they do not hold any information on the number of L1A1 SLR firearms that were sold to the public. They do know that there were 2,500 transferred to the then Government Stores Board in 1987.

1 https://www.police.govt.nz/advice-services/firearms-and-safety/firearm-law-changesprohibited-firearms/amnesty-and-buy-back/firearms-buy-back-scheme-data NZDF recommended that you approach Archives NZ for any possible answers to this question.

Firearms held on endorsements:
As at 27 August 2020, there are 28 Norinco M305 firearms that are recorded as held by active licence holders on an endorsement. There are also 464 L1A1 or SLR firearms that are held by active licence holders on an endorsement (401 of them are Lithgow L1A1).

Missing firearms:
Based on your previous correspondence where you refer to ‘missing firearms’, you assume that any firearms not accounted for in Buyback or Endorsements must be missing. However, since we cannot definitively know how many were imported or how many were sold on the NZ domestic market by NZDF and retained within New Zealand, this question cannot be answered.

The questions relating to ‘missing firearms’ are refused in accordance with section 18(g) of the Official Information Act 1982 as the information is not held. As you are well aware, you have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this decision.

For your information, Police has developed a process for proactive release of information, so the anonymised response to your request may be publicly released on the New Zealand Police website.

Yours sincerely
Mike McIlraith
Acting Superintendent
Arms Act Service Delivery Group