Documents released last week revealed Christopher Lewis, then 17 years old, shot at the queen, who was en route to a a science fair in Dunedin during an eight-day tour.
“Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the Queen. However, he did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target,” said a 1997 Security Intelligence Service memo.
Lewis was not charged with attempted murder or treason, but instead unlawful possession and discharge of a firearm. He was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment.
“Current police investigations into the shots have been conducted discreetly and most media representatives probably have the impression that the noise was caused by a firework of some description,” read a November 1981 SIS memo.
Documents relating to the 14 October 1981 event were declassified earlier this year, with excerpts since made public by news agencies like Reuters and Fairfax Media.
November 1996 saw Lewis charged with the murder of an Auckland mother and the abduction of her baby daughter. Lewis died in prison a year later, while awaiting the murder trial. He denied the charge in a suicide note.
The queen’s last formal visit to New Zealand was in 2002.