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New Zealand to explore more proactive defence agenda

New Zealand is forecast by Janes Defence Budgets to gradually increase its military expenditure over the coming few years. The spike in 2019 was caused by a one-off recognition of veterans' entitlements. (Janes Defence Budgets)

The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched a Defence Policy Review that could represent a significant shift in posture and military engagement in the Pacific region.

The review builds upon the Defence Assessment 2021, published in December that year, which identified China and climate change as pressing strategic threats to New Zealand.

Under the review's terms of reference released on 7 July, it is stated that since the publication of the Defence Assessment, “the impetus for a comprehensive review has increased in importance”, considering Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Michael Swain, deputy secretary of Defence Policy and Planning at the MoD, told Janes, “It is clear that the regional and international security environment is changing rapidly. This was illustrated in Defence Assessment 2021. Subsequent developments, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Solomon Islands-China security agreement, have underscored the challenges we face.”

He added, “Current policy settings were designed for a more benign strategic environment. Aotearoa [New Zealand] will need new policy settings and capability planning to meet the challenges of this new environment.”

The new review will be delivered incrementally with four ‘products' released in the next two years.

The first product is the ‘defence policy and strategy statement' that will be published in October 2022. The second is ‘future force design principles' that will be delivered in April 2023. These two documents will set out the main elements of New Zealand's new strategic direction and provide some initial details about any new structures for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

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