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Rongomau me te haumaru

Living in peaceful times doesn’t just mean being peaceful within our homes, land, and country. We are a Pacific Island nation, surrounded by water. To protect our country beyond dry ground, we need a Navy.

We sometimes refer to ourselves as a ‘large oceanic nation’ because New Zealand’s interests and territory extend further than the coastline – which, as it happens, is the ninth longest in the world. New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, sitting 200 nautical miles out from New Zealand, is approximately 15 times our land area and is one of the largest EEZs in the world.

And beyond, we have responsibilities towards the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. We also have a sector of Antarctica, the Ross Dependency, for which we maintain an interest under the Antarctic Treaty of 1961.

But the New Zealand Defence Force, and its Navy, projects itself wider than that. Peace and security isn’t something that one country handles alone. We partner with other countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, to promote global peace and security. Globally, there are more challenges. Different countries around the world are pursuing goals that are threats to peace. There are people who pursue extreme ideologies. Organised crime is international. Countries like New Zealand are stronger when we work with other countries to promote peace and security. 

We protect the world-wide concept of free passage, free trade and freedom of navigation because New Zealand – and many other nations - are so dependent on these concepts. Most of our country’s exports (90 per cent) and most of its imports are transported by the sea. We are vulnerable to anything that affects maritime trade, and we need to protect it.

Our Navy has responded to calls for help when other countries are having conflicts. Navy personnel take part in peacekeeping operations around the world. Naval vessels and people have been deployed to East Timor, Solomon Islands, Sudan, the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and Afghanistan.

Our frigates have deployed to the Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf and the Horn of Africa to help protect trade routes and prevent piracy and terrorism.

Closer to home, our Navy vessels conduct regular border and resource protection patrols supporting Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries, Search and Rescue operations, as well as supporting other agencies including the New Zealand Police, the National Emergency Management Agency, and Department of Conservation.

Our Inshore Patrol Vessels work around the New Zealand coast and two Offshore Patrol Vessels conduct similar work in the Southern Ocean and the South Pacific.

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Security in our region

The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore are one of the longest-running defence arrangements in the world. Conducting regular military exercises between the military forces of the five countries since 1981 enhances interoperability and promotes stability and security in the Southeast Asian region.


Five nations commit to defend and protect the newly formed states of Singapore and Malaysia whilst they build their defence capability. Following the reduction of forces in Southeast Asia from the United Kingdom, the FPDA are established and agree that in the event of any form of threat of armed attack the member countries will “immediately consult together for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately.”


Although not a formal alliance, the FPDA evolve to include a multilateral training exercise program with all five countries regularly coming together to conduct complex exercises involving air, maritime and land forces. These tactical and operational training activities enhance military interoperability between the five nations becoming the only defence arrangements of their kind in Southeast Asia.


Responding to changing global threats, the first FPDA Exercise Bersama Lima (translates to "Together Five" in Malay) commences. This is a new large-scale military training exercise executing multi-threat scenarios from counter-terrorism and maritime security to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks around the region. The combined joint exercise involves 3,500 military personnel, 31 ships, 60 aircraft, and two submarines operating from the Command and Control facility at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore. The Royal New Zealand Navy deploys the naval frigates HMNZS Ships Te Kaha and Te Mana to participate in Exercise Bersama Lima 04, supported by the tanker, HMNZS Endeavour.


Almost every year the NZDF deploy a contingent to Exercise Bersama Lima, participating in tactical training scenarios alongside other FPDA nations using air, land, and maritime assets. 

At sea, the Royal New Zealand Navy contributes to the battle staff that command Maritime Task Group 657.1 on the eastern seaboard of Malaysia for Exercise Bersama Lima 19. The team plans and executes a two-week sea phase to mould ships KD Lekiu and Kasturi from Malaysia, RSS Persistence, Valour, and Vigour from Singapore, and HMAS Sirius from Australia, into an effective task group.

The Maritime Task Group proceeds to Kuantan where, as they plan, a multitude of fast jets and aircraft touch down, ready to go to battle. The task group gets used to operating with other militaries, and the battle staff embark on RSS Persistence to direct the Combat Essential Training/ Force Integration Training (CET/FIT) phase of the exercise. The aim is to build the trust and confidence in working together as a new task group, and to generate combat capability in support of the overarching mission as part of Exercise Bersama Lima. 

It was really cool to be involved in such a dynamic exercise where the assets that we rarely get to play with were available in abundance

Lieutenant Trent Nancekivell, HMNZS Te Kaha

After anchoring at Tioman Island, the staff debrief and move into the War Exercise (WAREX) phase. With the assets split into opposing red and blue forces, both sides are tasked with winning the fight over the other.


Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha and replenishment tanker HMNZS Aotearoa, with a Seasprite helicopter on board, are participating in Exercise Bersama Gold 2021, in Malaysia in October. Approximately 270 Navy and Air Force personnel are deploying on the two ships. These exercises build friendships, share cultures, enhance interoperability, and continue to hone our warfare techniques. 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the FPDA - a unique and enduring multinational defence engagement maintaining peace and security in the Southeast Asia region.