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New Zealand First supports the axiom that the defence of the nation is the first responsibility of Government. We believe in capable, credible, professional defence forces, and dependable security arrangements with like-minded nations and groupings.

The New Zealand Defence Force’s priorities must be:

  • The defence of New Zealand’s territory, sovereignty, and interests.
  • To contribute to regional and global security in cooperation with regional and international partners.
  • To assist Government and civil authorities, both in New Zealand and regionally, in times of natural disaster.

New Zealand is a maritime nation with considerable maritime protection responsibilities and a significant role to play in the South Pacific and South East Asia in times of civil emergency or conflict. New Zealand First is committed to building and maintaining a professional and effective Defence Force appropriate to our size and tasking requirements, that is self-sufficient, and capable of operating with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

New Zealand First is committed to providing better resourcing for Defence, in keeping with, and contributing to, the commitments of our regional allies and partners.

We will continue to honour, maintain, and build upon existing defence agreements, in particular the Closer Defence Relationship with Australia as the cornerstone of our bilateral security arrangements.

New Zealand First believes the most valuable asset in our Defence Forces is our personnel. Accordingly we must protect their conditions of service and be innovative in improving recruitment and retention of personnel. We recognise both the unique situation faced by Defence Force families and the inability of service personnel to advocate on their own behalf for improvements or adjustments to their levels of remuneration and other working conditions.

We believe in a well-equipped Defence Force capable of protecting our national and sovereign interests, to the full limits of our territorial and maritime resource claims, and areas of international responsibility.

New Zealand First will:

  • Develop and maintain a marine-focused, professionally-orientated military, with a sufficient breadth of capabilities to provide operational independence, including Air Combat and blue-water naval elements. We will restore New Zealand’s strike capability with a small advanced force of jet trainer and combat aircraft.
  • Prioritize combat-trained and orientated military forces that are best able to contribute to national and regional security, and to United Nations and other international peacekeeping and peacemaking initiatives.
  • Create a professional armed Coast Guard as a sub-service of the Navy, primarily tasked with non-military responsibilities such as Fisheries protection, SAR and Policing and Customs duties, allowing the Navy to focus on primary military tasks.
  • Provide improved resourcing for Territorial and Regular Forces and better integration with Civil Defence, to enable effective assistance and cooperation during natural disasters, here and throughout the Pacific.
  • Ensure capabilities to fully support and assist other Government agencies including Police, Customs, Fisheries, DOC, Coastguard, and Search and Rescue.
  • Ensure improved pay, conditions, and on-going training to ensure recruitment and retention of quality service personnel. Establish an independent Armed Forces Remuneration Board to set pay levels.
  • Provide improved resourcing for the Defence Force to expand the Limited Service Volunteer scheme, and to actively encourage and assist with the Cadet Forces, in order to build confidence, self-esteem, responsibility, and self-discipline, and provide training and rehabilitation programmes for youth and for at-risk young people.
  • Maintain New Zealand's commitment to its Nuclear Free Policy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters MP on this policy

"The most valuable asset in our Defence Forces is our personnel. Accordingly we must protect their conditions of service and be innovative in improving recruitment and retention of personnel. We recognise both the unique situation faced by Defence Force families and the inability of service personnel to advocate on their own behalf for improvements or adjustments to their levels of remuneration. We will continue to honour, maintain and build upon existing defence agreements and particularly the Closer Defence Relationships with Australia as the cornerstone of our bilateral security arrangements. New Zealand First recognises the threats posed by international terrorism and rogue nations. We also remain committed to New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy."