Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Defence of New Zealand: the Formulation of Defence Policy in New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-08, 01:12 authored by Rolfe, James Grant

The research examines the processes by which defence policy has been formed in New Zealand and draws links between structure, process and outcome. The structure of the unified Ministry of Defence as it operated between 1970 and 1989 is examined in detail as are the processes by which declaratory policy is formulated and finance allocated to support policy. The effect of restructuring of the central Ministry (to separate the predominantly civilian 'policy setting' area from the uniformed 'operational' area) in 1990 is considered and the conclusion is drawn that types of outcomes will not change significantly as a result of the restructuring. As part of the research, case studies from a range of issue areas are examined. The broad issue areas used are: policy formulation in times of change, the operational use of the armed forces and equipment procurement. Case studies include the events leading up to the effective demise of ANZUS, the maintenance of troops in South East Asia, decisions to deploy troops in support of foreign policy goals and a variety of equipment decisions. Declared policy and financial allocations to support declared policy are considered side by side with the outcomes revealed by the case studies. The thesis concludes that the defence policy formulation process is flawed because of the structure of the organisation and the closed nature of the process. The organisation is overly hierarchical with too many decision levels and has not completely adapted to the changing roles which have been required by differing definitions of defence policy. A number of methods of improving processes are suggested.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Government


Alley, Rod