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New Zealand launches new policies to respond to growing Pacific challenges

Defence Minister Andrew Little releases the defence policy papers in Wellington, New Zealand, on 4 August. (Tim Fish)

The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched a National Security Strategy (NSS) alongside the first two parts of a new defence policy that prioritises enhancing security in the Pacific.

Released on 4 August the two policy papers include the Defence Policy and Strategy Statement (DPSS) and Future Force Design Principles (FFDP). Along with the NSS, these set the framework for future decisions about the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) funding, capabilities, and procurement.

These decisions will be taken in 2024 when a new Defence Capability Plan (DCP) is released that will provide details about future NZDF structure and how it will align with the government's strategic direction.

Defence Minister Andrew Little said New Zealand is “facing more geostrategic challenges than we have had in decades” including climate change, terrorism, cyber attacks, transnational crime, mis- and disinformation, and regional competition.

The NSS is the first of its kind published by New Zealand. Its priorities are national security and building a resilient society, and it identifies challenges including strategic competition and transboundary issues.

To help address challenges, Little said he expects New Zealand's defence spending to increase above the current level of 1% of GDP. “We expect as a consequence of the DCP that will rise, but it won't be 2%,” he said.

The DPSS builds on the NSS and raises concerns about the potential in the Pacific for “the establishment of a persistent military presence by a state that does not share New Zealand's Pacific security interests”. The DPSS recommends that New Zealand develops a more consistent presence in the Pacific Islands to support capability building and resilience against climate change.

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