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Optimising New Zealand Industry Involvement in New Zealand Defence

FEATURES: Line of Defence, April 2016

Debbie Howarth, Director, Industry Engagement, NZDF. Image courtesy of NZDF.Debbie Howarth, Director, Industry Engagement, NZDF. Image courtesy of NZDF.Following the launch of the report “Optimising New Zealand Industry Involvement in the New Zealand Defence Sector” in October 2014 the Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force have been putting in place plans to implement the recommendations.

This has taken the form of the Defence Capability Change Action Plan (DCCAP). The DCCAP was the focus of presentations by the Secretary of Defence Helene Quilter, Chief of Joint Defence Services Charles Lott and Director of Industry Engagement Debbie Howarth at the November 2015 NZ Defence Industry Association Forum (NZDIA).

Defence has a  commitment to successful partnering with industry,  To underpin this commitment the Defence Industry Engagement Strategy has been developed in consultation with the NZDIA. The aim of the strategy is in one document to assist business owners and support enabling functions within Defence and industry to be clear about way Defence will engage with Industry within the Government Rules of Sourcing.

The Secretary of Defence and Chief of Defence Force are clear about this future direction providing the following foreword to the strategy.

The New Zealand Defence Force is trained and equipped to prepare for and conduct a range of tasks for New Zealand and New Zealanders in a number of demanding environments, both nationally and globally.

As the Chief of Defence Force and Secretary of Defence, it is our responsibility to ensure that the servicemen and women who undertake these tasks have the means to do their job in an effective and efficient manner, and as safely as possible.

Industry has a key role in helping the New Zealand Defence Force maintain a modern, well equipped and capable Force for New Zealand. Today’s partnership with industry runs much further than ever before.  It includes the acquisition and through-life support of major military capabilities, camp and base management, the provision of logistics services, and the supply of catering and other hospitality.

A significant proportion of goods, services and base support for our Defence Force is now provided by industry.  Looking ahead, this will grow as we embark on a large investment programme which includes replacing all our major assets and re-capitalising the Defence Estate. 

In meeting this challenge, it is our intention that the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Defence model behaviours and practices that will make us an international exemplar of capability management.  This includes taking a whole-of-life focus when acquiring, operating and maintaining military capabilities and infrastructure.

This Defence Industry Engagement Strategy reflects that direction.  It puts a priority on behaviours that will delivery goods and services that are modern, relevant, proven and reliable.   Goods and services must be provided in full, on time, to specification and at optimum cost.

Successful partnering with industry provides innovative outcomes, produces economies and efficiencies and can reduce the total costs of ownership.   Successful partnering in the future will also mean that we can consider alternative ownership and operating models for the provision of Defence capabilities.

Through building strong relationships, partnerships and commitment the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Defence work with national and international companies to deliver the needs of our Defence Force.  The commitment, understanding and trust between Defence and our suppliers will ensure we have a strong, prepared and sustainable Defence Force for the future.

The Defence Industry Engagement Strategy will be released within the next month and will be backed up with a roadshow and evolving toolkit to assist Defence and Industry to continue to move towards the behaviours and practices we are aspiring to.


Debbie Howarth was appointed to the role of NZDF Director, Industry Engagement, in June 2015, reporting to the Chief of Joint Defence Services. She is responsible for coordinating business support to and from Defence and the provision of advice on Defence – supplier relations.

Prior to joining NZDF Debbie spent 14 years assisting New Zealand exporters in various roles within New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE). She worked predominantly in the maritime sector, forging strong relationships with NZDF and RNZN.

Debbie has significant experience in branding and international market development, including sponsorship leveraging for industry, and national and international level events, including the Rugby World Cup and Americas Cup.

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