New Zealand's national security is rarely discussed in detail outside a small group of government officials and academics. The Indefensible New Zealand podcast is designed to change that with a wide ranging and ongoing conversation that everyone can understand. Free of the constraints of word limits and sound bites, the host, Simon Ewing-Jarvie, presents a fascinating, 'whole of government' view of what needs to be done to keep Kiwis safe - now and in the future. And by future, we mean this series looks out to 2050 and beyond. Many guests will appear on this show - some whose names you'll recognise and others you will never have heard of. Together, they help to bring this important topic to life.
S2E1 New Government Old Defence
Welcome to Season 2 of Indefensible New Zealand - the podcast all about New Zealand's national security. In this episode, Dr Simon Ewing-Jarvie discusses the post-election situation for defence. At the time of recording, the new coalition government parties are still negotiating and it is not yet known who will be the Minister of Defence and Veterans.
Indefensible New Zealand National Security Podcast S1E11 - Defending NZ 3 - Insurgency & Resistance
Welcome to the final episode of season 1. This is the third part of our discussion about defending New Zealand against an invading force that is intent on occupying our land. In episode 8, I took a red team view of how New Zealand might be attacked. That was followed in the next two episodes with a long-range defence without the involvement of allies and a discussion about how New Zealand could be made ‘not worth the cost’ of coming too close. Now it’s time to consider the worst case, that our arch enemy, Buranda, has landed forces on our shores.
The reasons why New Zealand might be directly and conventionally attacked are many including resources, access to Antarctica and regime change to undermine western alliances. Traditionally, the writers of defence assessments include something in their analysis stating that ‘New Zealand is unlikely to face direct attack.’ This is a very convenient and, quite frankly, lazy way of putting tough decisions in the ‘nothing to see here basket.’
There are a range of possible scenarios but I’ve selected one for the purpose of the podcast.
Buranda has established a forward operating base on the Chatham Islands. This began with a commercial joint fishing venture with locals. The development of wharves and airfield was welcomed by Chatham Islanders who had seen little infrastructure investment from New Zealand. The Burandan Investment and Development Bank also built a new school, hotel, fire and police station. It also took a majority shareholding in Air Chathams which saw a fleet of modern mid-sized aircraft and several medium utility helicopters enter service.
While there were critics, Buranda had done nothing illegal. They claimed that they were just there to trade. The Burandan Blue Pacific Fishing Company openly supported a range of candidates in the 2025 local body elections. They were all successful. To celebrate the victory, the Republic of Buranda Navy proposed to send a warship to the Chathams to host a party for the Mayor and Council. The New Zealand government declined but the guided missile destroyer RBS Juu Wewe sailed there anyway together with the replenishment ship RBS Siku Za Furaha. There was little that New Zealand could do as the country lacked the capability to even approach the Chathams. Allies encouraged a diplomatic solution. Meanwhile, the Chatham Islands seceded to become an independent administration zone under the Republic of Buranda. A rapid build-up of Burandan military assets quickly followed. When conflict flared soon after in the South China Sea, Buranda made its move.
Would New Zealanders really put up a fight or would they allow themselves to be occupied?
Hopefully we will never know but it is useful to consider in advance what sort of resistance could realistically be offered.
This episode is published on 28 October which is the national commemoration day for the New Zealand Wars. These clashes between Maori and British troops took place in various parts of NZ from the early 1840s to mid 1870s. Right now, most Kiwis know more about overseas wars than those that took place in their own country. There is much to learn in studying them. Just google “New Zealand Wars” to find plenty of resources.
Defending New Zealand #2 - The Prickly Kiwi
In the second part of 'Defending New Zealand', I discuss how the country might configure itself to deal with an invading force that has the intention of putting boots on the ground.
This discussion touches on overt kinetic attacks such as missiles, rockets and bombs, digital attack and covert (fifth column or enemy SOF) attacks on military and civil infrastructure.
New Zealand's need for self-reliance in manufacturing the materiel needed to defend itself is premised on the potential for an air/sea blockade. To be safe, the country needs to be able to out-range any force attempting to approach and make the price of such an approach too high to pay. In order to do this, New Zealand needs to intensively develop its missile capability (including warheads and fuel), harness existing space capability and grow it along with massive investment in un-crewed systems in all domains.
New Zealand must strive for at least parity in the cyber battlespace, harden its command and control systems and push for excellence in targetting. In effect, the biggest mistake that New Zealand could make is to prepare and configure for wars being fought now. It must develop a uniquely New Zealand strategy for a war that the world has not yet seen except in movies.
New Zealand must become the 'Prickly Kiwi' that everyone acknowledges is too hard to attack.
Defending New Zealand 1 - Armed Neutral and Long Range
This is the first episode in a series that discusses New Zealand's defence needs and a brief insight into current shortfalls. While acknowledging that the people within the current New Zealand Defence Force are as good or better than those who have gone before, Simon Ewing-Jarvie bluntly points out that, in a war of commitment such as the defence of the country, the NZDF would cease to be a functional fighting force in a matter of hours without allied assistance. This episode discusses long range requirements.
The model that this series is premised on is the author's own. Establishing the national security requirements as an armed neutral state then subtracting current capabilities derives the GROSS National Security Deficit. By then factoring in the capabilities that can be relied upon from allies leaves the NET National Security Deficit. It is acknowledged that this will vary between risk scenarios.
To succeed, New Zealand's defensive posture must be based on an interlocking set of principles:
Self Reliance - Being able to produce or have sufficient stocks of essentials in time of conflictDeterrence - Making the cost of an attack on New Zealand not worth any potential gainsDetection - Generating situational awareness in all domainsInterdiction - Both strategic and tacticalCADDO - The author's own model of Continuous, Asymmetric, Disconnected Defensive Operations (What some would call resistance to an occupying force).Importantly, these discussions are about defending all 6 million New Zealanders (7 million by 2050) which includes the 1 million currently living overseas - rather than the continental defence of the country.
Attacking New Zealand - A Red Team View
A notional red team of industry experts (from 'Buranda'), takes on the challenge of attacking New Zealand with the objective of bringing down the Government and bringing in a system that is more open to its aims and views. No invasion or occupation is involved in this scenario which focuses instead on targetting the essentials of life and creating division between various sectors of society.
Nothing is out of scope in this brief outline which addresses politics (including a fifth column element) fuel, energy, water, food, health, ports and shipping, submarine cables, cyber warfare, space and satellites as well as aviation.
The attack scenario sets up an 'us and them' situation between the North and South Island as well as seeking to fracture relations with South Pacific neighbours. All this occurs while New Zealand's friends are decisively engaged elsewhere.
National Security Posture or Pose?
The focus of this episode is national security posture options for New Zealand. Simon Ewing-Jarvie and Heather Roy discuss four options:
1. Maintaining armed alignment with traditional allies and partners
2. Seeking new treaties, allies and partners more closely aligned to protecting our current economic interests
3. Adopting a strategy of armed non-alignment
4. Armed neutrality
The hosts discuss the risks and gains of each option; highlighting the usefulness of assessing these in a red team exercise, war game or simulation.
Audience members who wish to delve deeper into this topic are invited to read the article 'Divergent Options' at unclas.com or search for the host's publication on the topic at divergentoptions.org. Another recommended work is by Dr Reuben Steff in the New Zealand National Security Journal titled "The Biden Administration and New Zealand's Strategic Options: Asymmetric Hedging, Tight Five Eyes Alignment and Armed Neutrality."