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Indefensible New Zealand

Author: Simon Ewing-Jarvie

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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.
9 Episodes
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.
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.
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 partners2. Seeking new treaties, allies and partners more closely aligned to protecting our current economic interests3. Adopting a strategy of armed non-alignment4. Armed neutralityThe 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 or search for the host's publication on the topic at 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."
The host, Simon Ewing-Jarvie, takes a high level pass over several pieces of New Zealand legislation that either need amendment or should be created in order to improve the country's national security legislative framework.The discussion includes the raising of a National Security Agency and National Security Impact Statements for all new Bills as well as better use of existing legislation - such as S50A of the Defence Act declaring Situations of National Interest. The latter, the host argues, should automatically trigger qualifying operational service, veteran status and medallic recognition. The definition of exactly who is a veteran is noted, as is the subject of a National Emergency Medal.This episode also traverses the need for an Armed Forces Covenant Act to legislate the social contract between the state and those that put their lives at risk in its protection. It also introduces the idea of a NZ War Graves Commission , improvements to the Volunteers' Employment Protection Act and a new Voluntary National Service Scheme.
What's Taking So Long?

What's Taking So Long?


Simon Ewing-Jarvie discusses why it is taking so long to establish a national security agency and strategy, given that the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019 recommended exactly this approach in late 2020.He draws on his work in continuity management and executive behaviour in risky environments to highlight some possible reasons why public sector chief executives might be reluctant to embrace the sort of change that is being called for. Simon also highlights the politicisation of Defence and calls for Defence White papers to be replaced with National Security White papers.
On the back of the New Zealand Government's Budget 2021, Simon Ewing-Jarvie and Heather Roy discuss how much money is allocated to national security on an 'all agencies' approach rather than the traditional view of defence force funding.What is apparent is that current financial appropriations are insufficient for building national self-reliance and resilience. The discussion focusses on current gross domestic product and rates of growth  as the basis for being able to afford better levels of national security.  Heather draws on her experience as a former government minister to highlight ways in which GDP growth could be achieved including debt reduction, immigration, working smarter not harder and automation.Data from Statistics NZ, the World Bank and NZ's Productivity Commission underpin this wide-ranging approach to funding national security.
In this episode, Heather Roy questions Simon Ewing-Jarvie about what the world might look like in 2050 and what the national security implications for New Zealand are. There's also an interesting lead-in to a subsequent episode on veterans.It's a quickfire tour of population projections, emerging economic powers, increased conflict involving non-state actors and private security forces. UN peace keeping donor fatigue and climate refugee numbers are discussed. New battle domains do not replace kinetic warfare according to the host but he is open about his concerns that the political leadership of the New Zealand Defence Force has not yet shown an understanding of the need to change radically enough for coming challenges.Automation is introduced with the concepts of de-centralised command and control implying fewer personnel of higher rank and on the battlefield. Exo-skeletons, robotic soldier/partners, autonomous logistics systems are all mentioned.Simon attacks the widely-held notion in government that there is no direct threat to New Zealand. 
Heather Roy interviews Simon Ewing-Jarvie about what he thinks the country will look like in 2050 and beyond. This episode traverses Statistics NZ population projections as well as the views of well-known academics such as Professor Paul Spoonley and the late Professor Paul Callaghan. It also discusses likely implications of these and other demographic changes ranging from the Antarctic Treaty to energy generation and distribution, nuclear ship propulsion, schooling and a widening wealth gap in a 'three-nation New Zealand.'



Welcome to the first episode in the podcast series dedicated to discussing New Zealand's national security. This series is opened by former NZ Associate Defence Minister, Hon Heather Roy who is, herself, a retired army officer. She introduces the show's host, Dr Simon Ewing-Jarvie and questions him about the series content.
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