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DEFSEC Media is New Zealand's defence, security and fire B2B/B2G publishing group. Our leading magazines, Line of DefenceNZ Security and Fire NZ are read by key business, government and military decision makers and influencers. This website is the online home of cutting-edge content from each of our titles.



18 February 2016

SITUATION REPORT is your fortnightly news digest covering NZ's frontline industries of defence, security and fire protection. This SITREP contains the following stories: 


Force Fit and Occupation Outlook Apps win international awards

On 11 February the New Zealand Government received two international awards for the mobile apps ‘Force Fit’ and ‘Occupation Outlook.’

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce congratulated staff at the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment who developed the apps, which received Best m-Government Service Awards at the annual World Government Summit in Dubai.

Force Fit won the International Health Category, while Occupation Outlook took out the International Trade and Economy category.

“The Force Fit app guides people on how to prepare to join New Zealand’s Navy, Army or Air Force. By the time people have used the program they’re prepared to meet the basic fitness requirements for joining,” said Mr Brownlee.

The annual award aims to encourage government entities to provide creative and innovative solutions to the needs of the public via smart phone applications, mobile phones and smart wearable technologies.

The Chief of Army, Major General Peter Kelly, and the Honourable Sir Jim McLay, who is representing New Zealand at the Summit as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, accepted the awards on behalf of the Government.

The Force Fit app can be downloaded free from the App Store for iPhones and iPads, and the Google Play store for Android devices.

More information about the World Government Summit can be found at

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Fiji weapons, and McCully visits

According to news reports, a shipment of 20 containers arrived in Suva last month containing Russian weapons to the value of USD 8.8 million, with more to come. Suva and Moscow have asserted that the small arms, ammunition and vehicles are for Fiji's United Nations peacekeepers.

It’s a claim that Paul Buchanan of the Lowy Institute regards as debatable at best. “Although Fijian military inventories may well be obsolete”, he writes in a recent post in The Interpreter,” most UN peacekeeping missions are armed by the UN using NATO-standard equipment.”

Prime Minister John Key has downplayed any concerns, stating that the issue is a matter for Fiji “as long as they understand that the responsibility rests with them and that certainly includes soft loans that they can get from, not so much Russia, but some other countries."

Members of the Fijian political opposition have claimed the shipment is illegal because it was not approved by parliament and because of the possibility of the weapons being used domestically against opponents of the government.

The shipment is a tangible sign that Fiji’s ‘Look North’ policy continues in earnest, both politically and militarily, to the expense of relations with the island nation’s traditional Western supporters – Australia and New Zealand. Fiji has increasingly looked to Russia, China, and India following diplomatic punishment by New Zealand and Australia in the wake of the December 2006 military coup.

Travel sanctions imposed by the two countries on members of Fiji’s then ‘interim government’ and military were lifted in March 2014, but the political scars remain.

The ‘Look north’ policy has since played a significant role in the ongoing shift in strategic balance within the Pacific, with the Chinese and Russian navies in particular ramping up their respective levels of activity in the region.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Murray McCully is in Suva this week to meet with Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. “This will be my first visit to Suva since the 2014 elections and it is an opportunity to discuss our ongoing re-engagement directly with the Government of Fiji,” Mr McCully says.

"My discussions with Minister Kubuabola and other Government representatives will cover a range of matters including regional issues, trade, and our aid and development programme.

“Fiji is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in the Pacific and a growing number of New Zealand businesses are active there. We are ramping up our development relationship and I plan to visit the Koronivia Agriculture Station near Suva, where New Zealand is looking to support an upgrade to help boost Fiji’s agricultural sector.

“While in Suva I will also meet with Opposition representatives and Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor,” stated Mr McCully.

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Ministry of Defence Appoints Chief of Air Force to senior role

According to a 27 January Ministry of Defence media release, the Ministry has appointed Mike Yardley, the current Chief of Air Force, as Deputy Secretary Acquisition, heading up a new five-person Acquisition Leadership Team.

Announcing the appointment, Secretary of Defence Helene Quilter said that Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Yardley and the new team will provide the Ministry with a strong combination of professional and technical expertise.

“They will drive the change programme we have begun in the Ministry, in partnership with the New Zealand Defence Force, to build our capacity to deliver an acquisition programme of around $11 billion over the coming decade, including replacements for the NZDF’s air transport and air surveillance fleets and the Anzac frigates,” she said.

AVM Yardley brings more than fifteen years’ experience in the development, acquisition and introduction into service of military capability. As Chief of Air Force and a senior military leader he has led organisational change and business improvement processes within the New Zealand Defence Force to improve programme and project management, governance arrangements, risk management and business case development.

“Each member of the team is a highly experienced senior professional. Their collective backgrounds include significant defence and military experience as well as expertise in programme and project management, systems engineering and change management. All have held senior leadership positions in the public or private sector,” Ms Quilter said.

“I am confident the new team will make a significant contribution to the leadership and delivery of major capability projects, and I am looking forward to working with them when they take up their roles at the beginning of March.”

The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating, congratulated AVM Yardley on his appointment.

“I also would like to thank AVM Yardley for his contribution as Chief of Air Force, and indeed for his entire service career. I look forward to working with him in his new job,” he said.

LTGEN Keating said that a process to appoint a new Chief of Air Force will begin shortly.

The new Ministry of Defence Acquisition Leadership Team comprises:

  • Deputy Secretary Acquisition: Mike Yardley
  • Assistant Secretary Acquisition: Huntley Wright
  • Programme Director Maritime: Jon Finderup
  • Programme Director Land: Richard Burn
  • Programme Director Air: Neil Hygate

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Unisys to secure baggage for international flights

Unisys Corporation announced on 27 January that 16 international airlines operating to and from New Zealand have signed a four-year agreement for Unisys to continue providing an advanced baggage reconciliation system for international flights operating from Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington airports.

The baggage reconciliation system links passengers with their bags, tracking both as they move through the system to help the airlines comply with aviation industry security requirements.

Each year the participating airlines secure and validate bags for more than two million passengers on flights departing New Zealand.

When passengers check in, each bag receives a barcode, which is then scanned and reconciled with a passenger record before the bag can be loaded onto the aircraft. As the airline has a record of the baggage loading order, bags can be quickly identified and recovered if passengers fail to board. This process is designed to prevent a mismatch of passengers, crew and baggage, and to enhance security levels by avoiding the possibility of unaccompanied baggage being loaded on the flight.

The Unisys baggage reconciliation system helps airlines comply with the Hold Baggage Authorisation (HBA) regulations, also known as Account And Authorise (AAA) regulations, for baggage handling defined by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

“The Unisys baggage reconciliation system helps our member airlines comply with industry-mandated security requirements for baggage handling, while providing efficient processing to quickly find or remove baggage to help prevent delays,” said John Beckett, executive director, Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand.

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Defendants pay high price for immigration fraud

Two men were sentenced on 29 January at the High Court in Nelson for their role in organising false refugee claims.

Jaswinder Singh Sangha and Kulwant Singh were sentenced after being found guilty of 11 counts of supplying false statements to a refugee status officer following an Immigration New Zealand (INZ) investigation which revealed the pair had organised false refugee claims for 11 Indian nationals.

According to Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Kulwant Singh was sentenced to 25 months imprisonment. Jaswinder Singh was sentenced to 10 months home detention and 300 hours of community service.

The landmark case was New Zealand’s first ever human trafficking trial, Jaswinder Singh Sangha and a third man on trial – Satnam Singh were found not guilty of 10 charges under the Crimes Act 1961 of arranging the entry of people into New Zealand by coercion or deception. Both Jaswinder Singh Sangha and Kulwant Singh were found guilty of the remaining 11 counts of supplying false statements to a refugee officer.

Speaking about the sentencing INZ’s Manager of Serious Offences Unit, Cam Moore says, “Today’s sentencing shows that we have done our job, where there is evidence of individuals flouting the law, Immigration New Zealand will not hesitate to bring those individuals to justice.”

“Any allegations of people trafficking and immigration fraud are taken seriously and will be fully investigated- it’s a serious crime and ruins people’s lives. I hope today’s sentencing sends a clear message to others considering doing the same- act within the law or you will find yourself in court.”

New Zealand’s second ever people trafficking trial will take place in August 2016 involving a man who allegedly helped 16 people into the country unlawfully, charging them large sums of money for the opportunity to work in New Zealand.

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Appointment of new GCSB Acting Director

GCSB Chief Legal Advisor Lisa Fong will become the Acting Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) from 15 February 2016, Minister Responsible for the GCSB Christopher Finlayson announced today.

“Ms Fong is a capable leader and I am pleased she has agreed to take on this role,” Mr Finlayson said. 

Ms Fong has held her current role since April 2013. She has also spent time as Acting General Counsel for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. Prior to joining the GCSB, Ms Fong spent eight years at Crown Law.

Current Acting Director Una Jagose is leaving the GCSB to take up her appointment as Solicitor-General.

The State Services Commission is in the final stages of a recruitment process to find a permanent Director of the GCSB.

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NZ Herald features cybersecurity perspectives from KPMG and PwC

In paid content posted to the NZ Herald website on 12 February, KPMG cyber security expert Philip Whitmore claims that the public sector is now leading the way in New Zealand cyber security - and private sector companies could learn some lessons.

According to the article, cyber security has been a major government focus in recent years in the wake of increasing cyber-attacks globally, national and international ramifications from a spate of incidents and a major review of security in the public sector. Government agencies will report for the first time next month on new Protective Security Requirements (PSR).

Whitmore says: "New Zealand and the public sector was still a bit naïve then about how effective security was." Those incidents and subsequent review led to public service organisations having a stronger focus on security, including having senior people with clear security responsibilities.

"A lot of the tools the public sector has developed to support it becoming more robust have been made available to the private sector. I'd suggest the private sector should take the opportunity to pick up some of those tools and see how beneficial they are to their own organisations."

The importance of security, continues the article, extends beyond New Zealand's borders. "If New Zealand government systems aren't secure, it may impact our ability to interact on a global basis”, states Whitmore. He sees the release of the Government's Cyber Security Strategy at the end of last year as demonstrating the government's commitment to ensuring New Zealand is secure and prosperous online.

In a NZ Herald report posted five days later (Security breaches on rise, says Expert, by Aimee Shaw), this time it is PwC national cyber partner Adrian van Hest stating that New Zealand is lagging behind other countries in enforcing good practice cyber security strategies.

Government strategies alone were not enough to protect businesses from potential cyber-attacks if no action was undertaken, van Hest said.

According to the article, Six per cent of New Zealand firms have experienced a cyber-attack at least once a year, and the number of security breaches is on the rise. Cyber security attacks appeared to be less prominent in New Zealand, however, because they were often below the radar.

The biggest challenge the country faced was that cyber security strategies aimed to encourage behaviour rather than enforce action.

According to van Hest, "Small businesses, universally, are challenged by giving it [cyber security] the thought and the investment it would require to be secure, while bigger businesses probably have the motivation to do it but, to be honest, in New Zealand, the evidence bears out that we are sort of behind in adopting a lot of the technology and best practice strategies that the rest of the world would do."

"Most of the reason the rest of the world invests more [in cyber security] is because like most human beings we learn from experience. Internationally there have been a lot more incidents and they have been quite hurtful," he said. "I would be surprised if New Zealand doesn't learn the same way."

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KiwiRail security fail: tickets available for free

According to a 17 February NZ Labour Party media relsease, KiwiRail’s cyber security left a test website open to the public where it was possible to book train and ferry tickets for free.

“KiwiRail left its test website open for anyone on the internet. On the site it was possible to make bookings that appear legitimate on ferries and trains with a fake credit card number. It is remarkably easy for anyone with good technical knowledge to use the site to make free bookings”, stated Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran.

“Basically KiwiRail left a hole in its security so big you could drive a train through it.

“What makes matters worse is after I was contacted by a whistleblower I alerted KiwiRail who took 16 days to fix it. It is still unclear if the issues have been resolved

“Amy Adams launched a computer emergency response team (CERT) to great fanfare late last year to help protect the public and businesses online. It’s extremely embarrassing that its government agencies need that team more than anyone,” said Curran.

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International crime cooperation laws report welcomed

Justice Minister Amy Adams on 10 February tabled the Law Commission’s report on modernising New Zealand’s Extradition and Mutual Assistance laws.

The report is a first principles review of the Extradition Act and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, which enable New Zealand authorities to co-operate with other countries to investigate and prosecute crime.

“To combat cross-border crime, it’s vital that all countries improve international criminal co-operation efforts and respond effectively to the challenges that globalisation and advances in technology pose,” Ms Adams says.

“We asked for a first principles review of the two laws because we wanted to take a look at whether our legislation was operating efficiently and effectively, while ensuring that essential human rights are safeguarded.”

At the Government’s request, the Law Commission reviewed the relevant laws and has suggested reform to ensure that New Zealand has modern, fit-for-purpose extradition and mutual assistance regimes that ensure that New Zealand values are protected.

The Law Commission has concluded that both acts are complex and convoluted statutes and fail to come to grips with the realities of New Zealand’s place within a globalised environment. It recommended that both acts be replaced.

Ms Adams says the Government will consider the recommendations of both reports and respond in due course. The Law Commission’s report can be found on the Law Commission’s website:

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Minister: Illegal street racing crashes more than halved

The Sentencing Amendment (Vehicle Confiscation) Act 2009, which allows vehicles to be seized and destroyed has seen Illegal street racing crashes, injuries and deaths more than halve, said Police Minister Judith Collins in a 16 February media release.

The number of deaths, injuries and crashes where ‘racing’ was recorded as a factor contributing to the crash has reduced for each year from 2001 to 2015. In 2001, seven deaths, 77 injuries and 70 crashes were recorded, contrasting with the zero deaths, seven injuries and 15 crashes recorded in 2015 (as at September).

“When I passed this legislation in 2009, I said that confiscating and destroying the vehicles of the worst, repeat offenders would be the ultimate deterrent”, says the minister. “The Sentencing Amendment (Vehicle Confiscation) Act 2009 sent a strong message that illegal street racing would not be tolerated. It is working exactly as intended.”

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New Zealand Security Association Chairman sets out 2016 vision

At a breakfast networking event in Takapuna on 16 February, new NZSA Chairman Doug McCormick laid out his vision for the organization for 2016. His presentation was made just prior to an NZSA board meeting scheduled for the same day.

The vision included improving communication with association members, targeting member support services, appointment of a full-time CEO, achieving the organisation’s strategies and goals, and resolving structural and governance issues.

On the membership front, McCormick suggested a number of new initiatives to grow and support membership, including engaging with the majority of people in the industry who remain non-members, promoting the value of membership to security industry end-customers, promoting NZSA membership through non-security industry publications, raising general public awareness and continuing the organisation’s role in political lobbying.

McCormick also signaled an intent to grow the NZSA’s training business, promoting NZSA training to a wider audience and ensuring a high quality benchmark.

The 2016 vision also includes a re-look at the association’s media and conference strategy, including an evaluation of various online engagement models, such as social media and email newsletters. McCormick also took views from the floor in relation to the validity of the existing annual New Zealand Security Conference and Expo format, suggesting that alterative formats designed to make the conference less ‘inward-looking’ need to be explored.

A more detailed account of the presentation will appear in the April edition of the New Zealand Security Magazine.

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NZDF Deploys Second Wave of Firefighters to Tasmania

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) deployed a second wave of five firefighters to Tasmania last weekend as authorities there gear up for another month of battling the bushfires, According to an NZDF media release.

“We are continuing our assistance to the Tasmania Fire Service as there are still a significant number of fires that can potentially threaten communities in the north and northwest of the state,” said Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.

“The rotation of our firefighting crew is to ensure our people get adequate rest. They work in extremely tough conditions and up to 12 hours each day. But they are determined to help and the Australians have appreciated that.”

The current team of NZDF firefighters – four from the New Zealand Army and one from the Royal New Zealand Air Force – have been helping Tasmania’s fire crews since 29 January and will be relieved by the second team on 14 February. They form part of a 43-strong Kiwi contingent organised by New Zealand’s National Rural Fire Authority.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Brent Ruruku, who is leading the NZDF contingent currently battling the wildfires at Arthur River in northwest Tasmania, said working with the Australians has been a great opportunity to enhance their skills.

“It has been great working with them as a joint force. For us, this deployment has confirmed that our skill sets are aligned with international standards,” he said.

To get to their work area, the NZDF firefighters have to drive over 50 km of dirt road and carry all their equipment, food packs and water supplies over two km of steep terrain.

“The temperature reaches up to 30 degrees but it feels hotter because of the special gear we use – long sleeves, helmets, gloves and boots – and the physical exertion that our work entails. Each of us drinks up to five litres of water each day to keep ourselves hydrated,” Warrant Officer Ruruku said.

“Apart from the intense fires, we have encountered snakes and spiders. We are always conscious of our safety and we have lookouts so we can leave quickly if needed,” he added.

The wildfires, ignited by lightning fires in mid-January, have ravaged over 115,000 hectares including around 20,000 hectares of a World Heritage-listed area in northwest Tasmania.

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