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NZDF to use Drones to Patrol Kaipara Weapons Range

NZDF protection patrols will use drones to help identify unauthorised people and vehicles within the Kaipara Air Weapons Range.
NZDF protection patrols will use drones to help identify unauthorised people and vehicles within the Kaipara Air Weapons Range.

18 October 2017

Drone technology will be used by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to improve security at the Kaipara Air Weapons Range (KAWR).
Public access to the range is banned at all times.

Despite this, persistent incursions from the public still occur and NZDF protection patrols will now use drones to take images to help identify unauthorised people and vehicles within the zone.

Specialist infra-red cameras are also deployed at strategic locations around the NZDF zone to capture vehicle movements.

The range is at the north-west end of South Head on Kaipara Harbour. It extends down the west coast as far as the “26 Mile” warning sign and includes part of the south coast of the Kaipara Harbour entrance. 

It’s in an area of sand dunes, beach front, wetland and tussocks and is used for weapons testing and NZDF training activities.

The peak pressure on range security is in late spring and summer, especially on weekends and holidays, as more people access the beach.

These include people in four-wheel-drive vehicles, on motorcycles, and who go surfcasting along the coast.

While there is a reasonable level of public awareness among local residents and users, many beach users are from the wider Auckland region and are unaware that access to the range is banned all year – at all times. Breaches of access to the range are frequent by those unaware of the danger.

The range is clearly defined on the seven NZDF warning signs located at strategic points in the South Head area, and these signs also outline the ban on access at all times.

Banning notices are issued by NZDF patrols and the New Zealand Police can prosecute repeat offenders identified during sting operations on the range.

The range is managed from RNZAF Base Auckland in consultation with Ngati Whatua o Kaipara (via Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara Ngahere Ltd), Hancocks Forestry, the police, and the Department of Conservation.

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