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New Zealand unveils updated Indo-Pacific defence strategy

New Zealand’s Defence Minister Ron Mark will outline his country’s 2019 Defence Capability Plan in Wellington today as the country presses ahead with an overhaul of its foreign affairs and trade policies.

The new defence plan is aimed at refocusing defence strategy on the Pacific region and reducing deployments overseas.

The unveiling of the new defence strategy comes after New Zealand’s Parliament decided to boost defence spending by $1.4 billion (US$925 million) in an effort to raise such spending to 2 percent of the country’s budget by 2021 from its current 1.2 percent level.

Growing tensions with China, in a region that has historically been dominated by Australia and New Zealand, have raised concerns among policymakers in Wellington.

The Capability Plan is expected to incorporate parts of the country’s new ‘Pacific reset’ policy, such as higher levels of development and financial assistance to the Pacific Islands, and could see New Zealand take a more direct role in investing in the region.

Today’s capability announcement is part of a process to reposition New Zealand’s defence, foreign affairs and trade policies over the long-term to take into account a changing geopolitical environment in the Indo-Pacific.

Wellington’s defence repositioning will require balancing a desire to capture a larger trade relationship with China while also countering its growing military influence in the Pacific.


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