Obsolete Waihopai spy domes to be retired

The Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau Andrew Little says the GCSB’s announcement of its operational decision to retire the obsolete Waihopai domes shows a contemporary intelligence agency being open about today’s national security challenges.

This morning GCSB Director-General, Andrew Hampton, said two of the satellite communications interception dishes and radome coverings at Waihopai will be retired and deconstructed, while the station near Blenheim will remain an operational facility.

“The nature of telecommunications has changed, and other needs and capabilities have overtaken the sort of satellite communication interception that has been done at Waihopai,” Andrew Little said.

“We would be worse-off without the intelligence collected by the GCSB. Their insights help keep New Zealanders safe, and help government better direct resources and manage risks.

“Everyone knows technology is rapidly changing. Yesterday’s tools aren’t always useful when confronting the national security challenges of today and tomorrow.

“Budget 2019 provided $50m of new funding to the GCSB and Budget 2020 provided another $100m. About half of that funding was to procure new capabilities and maintain New Zealand’s technological advantages in intelligence gathering.

“All of the GCSB’s activities are carried out in accordance with our National Security and Intelligence Priorities, and New Zealand law including our international human rights obligations. Strong oversight is provided by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, as well as Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee,” Andrew Little said.

“The retirement of the domes has been discussed with our Five-Eyes partners and does not diminish New Zealand’s unique and highly-valued contributions to the partnership. Just recently, intelligence collected by the GCSB disrupted terrorist attack planning overseas. We only share information with other countries in accordance with our own strict policies, which includes conducting human rights risks assessments.

“Keeping New Zealanders safe means the capabilities of our intelligence agencies have to evolve with the times. The Director-General’s announcement will assure Kiwis that the GCSB is dealing with the national security challenges of today and tomorrow,” Andrew Little said.

The GCSB’s announcement is available at https://www.gcsb.govt.nz/news/gcsb-to-remove-iconic-dishes-and-radomes-at-waihopai-station/