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Defence of New Zealand

The responsibility for the conduct of Defence matters in New Zealand directly involves several Government agencies.

The principal ones are:

  • Executive Level - Through the portfolio of the Minister of Defence.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Advice to Government on New Zealand's place in the world.
  • The Ministry of Defence - Advice to Government on Defence policies, strategies and resources required to meet the defence requirements.
  • The New Zealand Defence Force - Implementation of Defence policies and strategies. 

New Zealand's Defence Policy in the 21st Century

On 8 June 2016, the Ministry of Defence released the 2016 Defence White Paper.  It sets out the Government’s expectations for Defence over the coming decades. The 2016 White Paper reflects the Government's commitment to a more regular cycle of defence policy updates.

This is important for the security of New Zealand, its citizens and wider national interests. New Zealand's strategic environment continues to evolve, sometimes rapidly, and our defence policy needs to adapt to these changes.

The Defence White Paper 2016 provides the foundation for New Zealand’s security now and into the future at a time of increasing instability and uncertainty in the international strategic environment.

The Government directed that a review of its defence policy be conducted over the course of 2015. The Government last updated its defence policy through the Defence White Paper 2010. The White Paper provides Defence with the direction it needs to be able to effectively prioritise the roles and tasks it undertakes, both at home and overseas, and guide the modernisation of many of the Defence Force’s military capabilities. The Defence White Paper 2016 provides an opportunity to take stock of changes to New Zealand’s strategic circumstances since 2010.

Defence is a key part of New Zealand's broader security system, and works alongside other government agencies to protect and advance New Zealand's security through:

  • the promotion of a safe, secure and resilient New Zealand, including its border and approaches;
  • the preservation of a rules-based international order which respects national sovereignty;
  • a network of strong international relationships; and
  • the maintenance of New Zealand's prosperity via secure sea, air and electronic lines of communication.