Entire New Zealand Defence Force estate at 'crossroads' in major review

The 81,000 hectares of Defence Force land is at a "crossroads" after the Government ordered a major review of its 58 sites across New Zealand.

That means every Defence Force site - from north to south of the country - could either be renovated, closed or shifted to a new location in the near future. 

Defence documents say, "A fundamental reorientation of the Estate is required" if the Defence Force is to deliver on Government policy.

Defence Minister Ron Mark announced the "long-term strategic review" on Thursday, which will look at the Defence estate requirements for the next 50 years, out to 2070.

"We need to be smart with our investment into the estate. So it makes sense for us to take stock of what we have, and look at what we will need in the year 2070," Mark said.

The document reads: "The scope of the review will include consideration for the future footprint of Defence Force, including identifying potential options for the location of camps and bases."

It follows a scathing assessment of the Defence Force estate in February, in which safety concerns around outdated, earthquake-prone facilities were raised.

It said: "The Defence Estate assets are aged and outdated; the vast majority are over halfway through their useable life and 78 percent should be replaced in the next 30 years."

Devonport Naval Base in Auckland.
Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. Photo credit: Getty

Mark has acknowledged the concerns. In a statement on Thursday, he said: "The welfare of our Defence Force personnel is a priority for me. We need acceptable facilities in order to support and retain them."

The Government has agreed to increase funding required to revamp the Defence estate from $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion to 2030. This was part of the overall $20 billion Defence investment announced last month.

"The review, plan and continued investment in the Defence estate will result in better working, training and living conditions for all personnel," Mark said.

It will be overseen by Mark, as well as Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford, Housing Minister Megan Woods and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

Adapting to climate change will be a consideration going forward. A Defence assessment released in December issued a stark warning about the effects of climate change and how it will be forced to adapt to increased disasters.

The current main Defence Force locations across New Zealand.
The current main Defence Force locations across New Zealand. Photo credit: Defence Force

The New Zealand Defence Force is responsible for the third-largest area of Crown land in the country and manages 58 sites, including nine camps and bases.

In Auckland, the seaside village of Devonport just 12 minutes by ferry from the city's CBD, is the home of the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Air Force base is located at Whenuapai, near the upper reaches of the Waitematā Harbour.

The Defence Force Headquarters is located in Wellington.