The Changing New Zealand National Security Environment: New Threats, New Structures, and New Research

Author: Hoverd, W.J.
Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

UK’s (Brexit) economic protectionism will continue to have on­going impact upon New Zealand’s economic security where these traditional partners are continuing to renegotiate and redefine their economic relations. These political and economic challenges are both domestic and international, and economic security im­pacts national security. The economic debates are tied into a polarisation of politics within these nations which is characterised by a growing divide between left and right within a nation’s political sphere.22

This polarisation is characterised by a lack of desire to engage constructively with po­litical opponents and often results in a vilification of social groups. i.e., immigrants. Arguably, this polarisation occurs across the medium of social media and impacts more heavily on marginalised communities. But it also manifests internationally as tensions over trade and borders (i.e., Brexit and Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall). Key questions for the contemporary study of New Zealand national security is whether eco­nomic protectionism is driving international insecurity and whether the polarisation of politics has adversely impacted free speech, encouraged extremist views and incited dehumanisation of social groups? Certainly, these issues all surround the commentary that has arisen after the Christchurch terror attack. We now turn from this discussion of the global to discuss local events impacting how we understand national security.

Changes in the Local Security Context

Our local national security context has been characterised by terrorism, climate change, defence concerns, cybersecurity, Mycoplasma bovis, intelligence reform and two major government inquiries that may evolve how we understand and enact security in New Zealand. There was a change of government in 2017, with a new Prime Minister Jacin­da Ardern of the Labour Party leading a coalition government alongside New Zealand First and the Green Party. Regionally, the Pacific Reset23 has focused New Zealand Gov­ernment initiative and this policy has, in turn, influenced defence policy in terms of proposed capability purchases ensuring that in addition to offering combat functions they are also to provide humanitarian and disaster relief tools. In addition, Minister responsible for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) Andrew Little noted in 2018, that the greatest threats facing New Zealand’s security were terrorism and cybersecurity.24

In response to global cybersecurity concerns and their potential impact on domes­tic infrastructure, the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) Na­tional Cyber Security Centre has purchased and activated its CORTEX cyber defence mechanism.25 CORTEX is designed to protect nationally significant Government and Private Sector organisations from malware attacks similar to WannaCry or NotPetya. This defence of key infrastructure is then supported by broad initiatives such as those provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise’s (MBIE) Computer Emergency Response Team (CERTNZ)26 in combination with a broader Cyber