Minister's Arms Advisory Group (MAAG)
On 24 June 2020, the Arms Act 1983 (the Act) was amended to provide for the establishment of a statutory advisory body to the Minister of Police. Members were appointed on 6 April 2021 to the Minister’s Arms Advisory Group (MAAG).
The purpose of the MAAG is to advise the Minister on matters that contribute to achieving the objectives of the Act, in particular, the safe use and control of firearms.
The MAAG may provide advice on any matter relating to firearms in New Zealand, including legislative proposals, policies for regulating New Zealand’s firearms regime, and the promotion of firearms safety.
MAAG members comprise a balance of people from both the firearm-owning and the non-firearm-owning community, including people who are concerned about the mitigation of harm from firearms from a health perspective.
- Don Hammond was appointed as Chair for a three-year term. Mr Hammond brings business, leadership and governance skills, and knowledge of firearms and pest control. He is currently Chair and shareholder of a number of private farming and forestry entities, and not-for-profit entities.
- Rehanna Ali was appointed for a three-year term. Ms Ali was a member of the Muslim Community Reference Group to the Royal Commission of Inquiry undertaking research into legal, regulatory and legislative frameworks relating to firearms both in New Zealand and overseas; New Zealand gun licensing regulations; and working with victims of gun violence.
- Michael Dowling was appointed for a two-year term. Mr Dowling is the Chairman of the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO), and a board member of the New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups. Mr Dowling brings technical knowledge of firearms and experience with the firearms owning community. He has extensive governance experience as he is currently a Director of a financial advisory company and has voluntary involvement in various organisations.
- Simon Mount QC was appointed for a two-year term. Mr Mount has been a Barrister since 2010 and has maintained an interest in firearms law and policy. He has conducted and acted as counsel in a number of inquiries relevant to public health and safety. Mr Mount is a member of the Public Service Commission’s Panel of Performance Improvement Framework Lead Reviewers and Inquirers.
- Dr Catherine (Cathy) Stephenson was appointed for a two-year term. Dr Stephenson is a General Practitioner, the Clinical Lead Southern for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice, and a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence, University of Otago. Dr Stephenson has a sound knowledge of the health impacts of firearms.
- Deborah (Debbie) Wakker was appointed for an eighteen-month term. Ms Wakker is the President of Pistol New Zealand and a founding member of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum. She is actively involved in a variety of competition shooting for pistol, rifle and shotgun, and is professionally involved in the education sector.
- Shayne Walker was appointed for an eighteen-month term. Mr Walker is currently Senior Lecturer in Social and Community Work Programme, Otago University Dunedin. He is an occasional recreational hunter. He is Co-Chair of Voyce Whakarongomai (a mentoring role) and has served on the Family Violence Death Review Committee since 2018.
- Philippa Yasbek was appointed for an eighteen-month term. Ms Yasbek is a Co-founder of Gun Control New Zealand and has knowledge of New Zealand and international firearms regulatory systems acquired through her involvement with Gun Control New Zealand.
There is currently one vacancy on the MAAG, the appointment process is underway to find a new member.
Members collectively possess knowledge and experience the following areas:
- New Zealand and international firearms regulatory systems
- public health and safety, particularly as it relates to firearms
- firearms research
- delivering firearms safety training and safe and use of firearms
- membership of any community organisation or group involved in firearms awareness, safety, or law reform
- ability to work with Te Ao Māori and New Zealand’s diverse population.
Fees and expenses
MAAG fees and expenses are in accordance with the “Fees Framework for members appointed to bodies in which the Crown has an interest” [CO (19)1]. The fees framework is available here.
Resources and support
Resources and administrative support are provided by Police in accordance with section 89(4) of the Act. The Chair and members will be supported by a Secretariat, who is accountable to Police, to enable the MAAG to perform its functions.