Speech to announcement of roadmap for future of defence and national security released

Defence Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques

Morena tatou katoa,

Koutou kua tae ā kanohi mai, ā ipurangi mai,

Ki te whakatūwhera tēnei kaupapa matua,

E hāngai ana ki te haumarutanga o Aotearoa,

Tena tatou katoa.

Members of Parliament, Diplomatic Excellencies, industry and NGO representatives, public sector leaders and officials, distinguished guests, our MC, LT COL Glenn King, and the catering and security staff, welcome to you all.

In 2023 we do not live in a benign strategic environment.

Aotearoa New Zealand is facing more geostrategic challenges than we have had in decades – climate change, terrorism, cyberattacks, transnational crime, mis and disinformation, and competition in our region which, up until recently, we thought was protected by its remoteness.

The changes in the domestic and international security environment mean our response and preparedness must change too.

We need the strategies and the capabilities to respond.

We need cohesive societies where facts, reason and tolerance unite us.

And how New Zealand responds to the challenges must be proportionate, predictable, and avoid unnecessary securitisation.

Because we Kiwis stand for a peaceful world for all people.

It’s what we owe to our children, and our grandchildren.

New Zealanders deserve to live forever in a free liberal democracy, with a stable climate, and personal safety, underwritten by a rules-based international order that provides for travel, trade, and making the most of what the world has to offer.

This means we must be prepared to equip ourselves with trained personnel, assets and materiel, and appropriate international relationships in order to protect our own defence and national security.

And we are.

This government has increased military and intelligence spending in order to modernise our capabilities across land, sea and air. We have our most precious assets, our people, deployed to hot spots around the world.

But defence procurement and sustainment for contingency are decades-long projects. It’s just not possible to buy reliable capability in an emergency.

These emerging threats do not require an entirely new foreign policy response. Our independent position, coupled with targeted investments and strengthened ties with partners and allies puts us in a strong position to face the future.

A year ago we commissioned the Defence Policy Review, to provide a roadmap for the future of Defence as part of the national security of New Zealand, and to do so in the context of the rapidly changing conditions we see around us.

One of the first actions the Chris Hipkins government took was to speed up work on that review.

The Prime Minister added Defence to my existing responsibilities overseeing the intelligence agencies, and coordinating the response to the terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosques, because he wanted to ensure the review made the most of the insights available from across out national security system. This is what I have done.

Today we are releasing two documents as part of the Defence Policy Review.


The first is the Defence Policy Strategy Statement.

The Strategy Statement assesses the world as it is now, from a Defence perspective, and identifies the principal challenges: climate change and strategic competition.

And it lays out strategy, goals and options for how we can respond to these challenges in pursuit of:

  • A secure, sovereign, resilient New Zealand and region,
  • Collective security through a strong network of partners, and
  • An effective rules-based international system.

We will do that by acting early and deliberately in pursuing and protecting our defence interests, particularly in - and for – the Pacific.

We will strengthen understanding in and of our region, including by amplifying Pacific voices in the world.

We will enhance our many partnerships, particularly with our sole formal military ally, Australia, and the Pacific Islands Countries who are more family than just neighbours.

And we will improve the effectiveness of our combat and other military capabilities, including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.

Because we have a proudly independent foreign policy we will pursue our interests in our own Kiwi way. The Strategy Statement is underpinned by four principles that represent some of the core of what it means to be a New Zealander:

  • Mana and Pono – to be true, sincere and to act with integrity,
  • Kotahitanga / Unity / Solidarity – which is our preference for unity of purpose, particularly with Australia, our longstanding Five Eyes intelligence partners, and the Pacific Island Countries.
  • Kaitaikitanga – guardianship, for our whenua, our tangoa, our region, our allies, partners and friends, and for the climate and the natural environment, and
  • Angitu / Striving / Success – meaning having a combat capable, ready force that protects New Zealand and our interests.


The second document we are releasing today is the Future Force Design Principles (FFDP).

This is a guide for future investment planning out over the next 15 years.

The FFDP lays out 11 guiding principles that need to be considered when deciding what Defence capability is needed when making investment decisions, to be applied with varying degrees of priority.

These principles include the extent of our combat capability, our resilience in the face of changing circumstances, our ability to expand or reduce our capacity, the strength and nature of our partnerships, and our embrace of leading-edge technology.

The FFPD is a bridge between the Strategy Statement and a future Defence Capability Plan. That Capability Plan is where decisions on the next range of investments will be considered.


Defence is a fundamental part of New Zealand’s national security system, however is but one of many parts.

I am releasing today New Zealand’s first National Security Strategy, Secure Together - Tō Tātou Korowai Manaaki.

This strategy is the government’s direction to the whole national security community on how to navigate the dynamic security environment – an environment where there are threats, but also many opportunities.

It fulfils the intent of many of the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch Mosques, and meets New Zealand’s commitment under the Boe Declaration for all Pacific Island Forum members to develop their own national security strategies and help foster a more transparent and secure region.

At its heart the National Security Strategy is a whole-of-society vision for a secure and resilient New Zealand.

It commits us to acting early, working together, and having an integrated approach across:

  • Strategic competition and the rules-based international system,
  • Emerging, critical and sensitive technologies,
  • Disinformation,
  • Foreign interference and espionage,
  • Terrorism and violent extremism,
  • Transnational organised crime,
  • Pacific resilience and security, and
  • Economic, maritime, border, cyber and space security.

These themes are the updated National Security and Intelligence Priorities. When we came to government the priorities for the national security system were highly classified. If the public didn’t even know what the priorities were, then how could they have their say or contribute to improving the security of our country?

There was nothing at all good about the events of the 15th of March 2019 and the 3rd of September 2021. However those horrific events were the start of more mature national conversation about national security.

That’s a conversation that in my view – and in the Prime Minister’s view – was long overdue.

Because matters of national security are meaty and complex. They are of fundamental importance.

And the picture will be added to next week when the NZSIS release their 2023 analytical assessment of the security threat environment. The release of this document will be another milestone in responding to the Royal Commission’s report.

But safeguarding our national security cannot be left to government alone.

We are all responsible for the security of our New Zealand, of our partners, our friends, and this planet that we all share.

Today Kiwis want to know more about the national security challenges we face, and crucially they want to be part of the discussion about how we can address them.

And we all do need to be engaged in the conversation about our national security and the threats to it.

Because it is how New Zealand respond to threats - to terrorist attacks, to the changing geostrategic environment, to technological change, to mis and disinformation, to the climate crisis, and more – that will ensure our country continues be admired in the world.

New Zealanders are known for our values of peace, tolerance, freedom, human rights, and fairness for everyone.

We are respected for our proven independence, our trustworthiness, and the fact we put our money where our mouth is by investing in capabilities to protect ourselves and our partners, and participating in disaster relief and peacekeeping around the world.

And we are also respected for having the guts to speak up honestly and with cool heads when it is in our interests to do so – because we deal with the world as it is, even as we strive for better.

The first National Security Strategy is an important milestone in that national conversation. It is consistent with the two Defence documents I have also released today. It is a clear statement of our principles and commitments to the world, and a guide for where will go next as a proud, independent, peace-loving Pacific country that aspires for our people to one day be able to say that they again live in a benign strategic environment.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou koutoa.

More information about the announcement is available here.