Government releases plans for defence, national security as world contends with 'complex', 'disruptive security challenges'

Prime Minister Chirs Hipkins says the domestic and international security environment has changed, so Aotearoa's preparedness "needs to change too" as the first two documents of the Governments Defence Policy Review and New Zealand's first National Security Strategy are released. 

Prime Minister and Minister for National Security and Intelligence Chris Hipkins said the world is contending with a range of "complex and disruptive security challenges", some of which Aotearoa has experienced too. 

"In recent years our country has experienced terrorist attacks, growing disinformation, and cyber-attacks on critical national infrastructure."

Hipkins said the domestic and international security environment has changed - so Aotearoa's preparedness "needs to change too".

"To be clear-eyed on risks and to put in place the right capabilities to be effective."

He said the sooner changes are introduced, the more secure Aotearoa will be for future generations. 

"As we scan the international horizon, we need to keep our eyes wide open to the emerging issues and threats to New Zealand and our interests."

While there are emerging threats, Hipkins said they do not require new foreign policy, 

"Our independent position, coupled with targeted investments and strengthened ties with partners and allies puts us in a strong position to face the future."

He said the documents outline a plan and are an "important step" in how "we are protecting our national security and advancing our national interests in a more contested and more difficult world".

The released Defence Policy Strategy Statement shows New Zealand's defence goals and how the Government will achieve them.

Hipkins said the Future Forces Design Principles will bridge the new defence strategy and the options for the investment required to deliver it. 

"It will be the basis for a new Defence Capability Plan."

The National Security Strategy, Secure Together - Tō Tātou Korowai Manaaki, shows the Government's direction to the broad national security community on how to navigate the "changed environment". The updated 2023 National Security and Intelligence Priorities align with the strategy.

Defence Minister Andrew Little said it is "essential" to respond "appropriately" to the full raft of national security threats to Aotearoa and the country's interest. 

"That is what forms the assessments and strategies in the documents released today, all of which are tightly aligned and interdependent," Minister Little said. 

"We are investing to modernise our capabilities across land, sea and air, and are strengthening our relationships with friends and partners in the Pacific and beyond."

Here's where the Government will focus its national security efforts: 

  • Investing in a combat-capable defence force and the wider national security system
  • Tackling emerging issues like disinformation, and undertaking more concerted efforts in areas where threats are growing, like economic security
  • Building and sustaining a public conversation on national security, by being more upfront about what we are observing as well as listening to New Zealanders, in order to grow and maintain social license for efforts to protect our security
  • Supporting Pacific resilience, providing development assistance, and continuing work to bolster the security capacity of Pacific nations
  • Strengthening security cooperation and ties in the broader Indo-Pacific region
  • Working to maintain and strengthen the global system of rules and norms.
  • Work will now commence on a new Defence Capability Plan which will outline what resources, people and capability are required to meet the challenges ahead.