New Zealand's National Terrorism Threat Level has been lowered from high to medium

12:20 pm on 17 April 2019

New Zealand's terrorism threat level has been downgraded from its highest ever setting to "medium", but still remains higher than before last month's Christchurch mosque attacks.

Armed police at the area where graves are being prepared. 20 March 2019

Armed police in Christchurch after the 15 March terror attack. Photo: AFP

In a statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said agencies were not responding to any "current specific threat" but a "medium" level meant a terror attack was "feasible and could well occur".

"New Zealanders' safety is the highest priority for the government," the statement said.

"People will continue to notice a clear police presence at public events, including on Anzac Day."

The terror alert level was elevated from low to high for the first time ever after the 15 March terror attack in Christchurch in which 50 people were killed.

The level is set by the independent multi-agency group Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) which continually assesses the country's threat environment.

"Government organisations, including police, are required to assess their own security settings and ensure they are appropriate when there's a change to the National Terrorism Threat Level and they will make operational decisions accordingly," Ms Ardern's statement said.

"Behind the scenes, there remains an extensive cross-agency response to counter any potential threats. A number of agencies, including the police and NZSIS (Security Intelligence Service), continue to work hard to understand, mitigate and manage threats and I am receiving regular briefings on that work."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police have begun to transition from the protective security measures that were in place following the attack.

"Generally, this means frontline staff will transition back to our normal approach regarding carriage and access to firearms," Mr Bush said. 

"You may still see some frontline staff continue to carry firearms on a case by case basis if particular circumstances necessitate this approach.

"We will still maintain our tactical capability to respond to incidents as required, however the public can now expect to see fewer police officers routinely carrying firearms."

New Zealanders should continue with their daily lives, but remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police, Ms Ardern said.

"I'm very heartened that people have been doing this since the Christchurch attack, while also continuing to show their support and solidarity with the Muslim community across the country."

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