Biography (short version here)

Nicky Hager is an author and investigative journalist based in Wellington, New Zealand. He was born and grew up in the small town of Levin, where his East African-born mother Barbara was a counsellor and district councillor, and his Austrian-refugee father Kurt ran a clothing factory. He spent five years at Victoria University in Wellington, gaining a BSc in physics and a BA Hons in philosophy. During university, and for some years after, he was well known in New Zealand for his role in political causes.

On leaving university he worked for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research analysing and writing about indigenous forest management plans. Later in the 1980s he worked as a commercial builder and part-time physics teacher. In this period he built himself a house overlooking Wellington Harbour.

In the 1990s he spent several years researching his first book, Secret Power . It is an in-depth exposé of New Zealand and international intelligence systems, particularly the US Echelon system that targets international phone calls and e-mail. This was the first book on US and allied mass surveillance systems, which would later be revealed in dramatic detail by Edward Snowden. Publicity about this book earned him the description of being the New Zealander who “received the most overseas coverage in 1998″.

A US intelligence specialist. Jeffrey Richelson, described this book as “a masterpiece of investigative reporting” — an idea that set Nicky Hager on his years of investigative journalism since. There have been five more books and a string of ground-breaking articles. He specialises in investigating hard-to-document subjects, such as military and intelligence agencies, public relations activities and the unseen side of politics. This requires creative ways of obtaining information, trusting relationships with confidential sources and lots of time — with research typically stretching over months or years.

Nicky writes mostly for the New Zealand newspaper Sunday Star-Times. He also presents a wide range of lectures (often on journalism techniques), conference papers and other public speaking. He has travelled widely, including to speak at conferences and universities in Australia, Fiji, Japan, Thailand, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Britain and the United States.

Outside work he enjoys music (including helping to organise a large Wellington choir), building, tramping in the mountains and, particularly, being father to his daughter Julia. He has three sisters: Debbie Hager, who lectures in public health; Mandy Hager, who is a fiction writer; and Belinda Hager who is a jeweller and teacher.

Nicky Hager can be contacted by email to