NZ is beefing up its defence commitment to UN work in South Korea (a reminder that the Korean War has not technically ended)

Three of the latest Beehive announcements pertain to this country’s relationships with countries in South-east and East Asia, giving pointers to our foreign affairs geopolitical priorities.

One statement signalled “a suite of meetings” between Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and her ASEAN and East Asia Summit counterparts, starting with the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last night.

Mahuta said she would be urging action on Myanmar and she said tensions in the South China Sea continue to be a concern for New Zealand.

Another statement hailed the opening of the New Zealand High Commission in Colombo next week.

And then there was the announcement of an increase in New Zealand Defence Force commitment to the United Nations Command in the Republic of Korea and its Military Armistice Commission.

Moreover, the mandate for New Zealand’s longstanding deployment to the Republic of Korea has been extended to August 2023. The NZDF has contributed the United Nations Command and its Military Armistice Commission since 1998.

The increase in our deployment – in percentage terms – is a hefty 33 per cent.

Your Point of Order team keep an eye on North Korea’s chronic bellicosity and the threat it represents and  – as keen students of this country’s involvement in the Korean War in the early 1950s – we are aware that war has not technically ended.

So what’s up?

The NZDF) will deploy three additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United Nations Command and its Military Armistice Commission from nine to 12 personnel.

“Increasing the size of our deployment to the Republic of Korea reflects the importance that New Zealand places on collective security efforts that support peace and stability and the international rules-based system in the Indo-Pacific region, and on the Korean Peninsula in particular,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

While she was busy on the foreign-affairs front, her colleagues were issuing statements about the government’s accomplishments at home.

  • The PM joined with Housing Minister Megan Woods to announce New Zealanders now have “an extra 8,000 warm, dry public housing places to call home, under a Government public housing programme that is full steam ahead”.
  • Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced investments amounting to millions of dollars for schools across Wellington, Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki.
  • Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Kiri Allan announced a new round of funding – another trough for cultured oinkers, in other words – to support capital projects in the arts and heritage sector.

But let’s go overseas, to the deployment of three more NZDF  personnel to jobs in the United Nations Command Headquarters in Korea, where they will work alongside staff from several nations including the Republic of Korea, the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Thailand and Colombia.

Defence Minister Peeni Henare spelled out the rationale in strategic terms:

“This decision reflects our strong commitment to the United Nations, the Republic of Korea and supporting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula – and in the Indo-Pacific more widely.” 

He further said this deployment was an excellent opportunity for NZDF personnel to develop their skills, leadership and experience in a multinational environment and build future leaders.

The press statement included these notes –

Q: Why is New Zealand deploying three more personnel to the Korean Peninsula at this time?

A: New Zealand is a strong supporter of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, from our significant contributions during the Korean War, to our long-standing contributions to the UN Command and its Military Armistice Commission since 1998.

The security situation on the Korean Peninsula is of great importance to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

The addition of three personnel to our current deployment reflects our commitment to collective security in the Indo-Pacific.

Q: What are the UNC and the UNCMAC?

AThe UN Command and the Military Armistice Commission provide a multinational command tasked with maintaining the armistice agreement and facilitating diplomacy between North and South Korea.

Q: What do New Zealand personnel deployed to the Korean Peninsula do?

A: The NZDF personnel deployed to the Republic of Korea conduct Armistice monitoring, education, inspection and operations functions.

Q: What are the new roles?

A: The NZDF will fill new roles in the UN Command that support the development of plans, orders and concepts of operations for activities on the Korean Peninsula.

Q: What is the current security situation on the Korean Peninsula, are there any risks to NZDF personnel deployed there?

A: The situation on the Korean Peninsula is a key regional and global security concern.

We encourage continued efforts towards diplomatic engagement to advance denuclearisation and reduce tensions.

Our personnel deployed to the Republic of Korea receive appropriate pre-deployment training and mitigations are in place to ensure their security. In the event of hostilities on the on the Korean Peninsula, New Zealand would assess its approach at the time.

Q: What is the legal basis for this deployment?

A: The Meyer Agreement of 1952 provides the legal basis for our personnel deployed to the UN Command and its Military Armistice Commission in the Republic of Korea.

Q: Is this a peacekeeping mission? 

A: The UN Command is mandated by the UN Security Council and conducted under the UN flag, however due to the legal status of the United States as executive agent of the UN Command, it is not technically a UN peacekeeping mission.

Q: How is the NZDF mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on the mission and possible transition between countries?

A: COVID-19 has had an impact on the sustainment of approved NZDF deployments. Officials continue to monitor the effects of COVID-19 on missions in which NZDF personnel are deployed. The three new personnel deploying to the Republic of Korea will undertake

Latest from the Beehive

Housing

8,000 additional public housing places delivered in major Government milestone 

New Zealanders now have an extra 8,000 warm, dry public housing places to call home, under a Government public housing programme that is full steam ahead, says Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Of the 74,337 households now being supported in public housing places, 6,503 are living in new public homes built since November 2017.

The government has committed to adding over 18,000 public and transitional housing places by 2024 and this is well on track, Ardern said.

Housing Minister Megan Woods – at the opening of six newly built one-bedroom state homes in Spreydon, Christchurch – said between November 2017 and 30 June 2021, 8,121 public housing places have been added by Kāinga Ora and Community Housing Providers, taking total public housing places to 74,337.

Schools

New classrooms and building improvements for central and lower North Island schools

Six schools across Wellington, Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki are getting a funding boost so projects can enter construction and deliver much needed works sooner, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced.

While visiting Cannons Creek School in Porirua, Hipkins also announced 10 schools in the central and lower North Island will benefit from the Government’s ongoing investment in short-term roll growth classrooms. The programme delivers temporary teaching spaces around the country to cater for rapidly growing rolls.

He announced

  • $1.5 million in further funding for Cannons Creek School which will enable a new block to be built, replacing five old classrooms.
  • $8.5m of further funding into projects at five other schools across Wellington, Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki:
  • $10m to fund short-term roll growth classrooms at six schools in the Wellington region:
  • $4m to fund short-term roll growth classrooms at four schools in Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki:

Altogether the Short-Term Roll Growth investment across the central and lower North Island will benefit around 550 students, at a cost of approximately $14 million.

The funding for these projects comes from the $150 million investment to support shovel-ready school property projects; and $100 million for the short-term roll growth programme from Budget 2021, as announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis last week.

Further announcements of schools benefitting from the programmes will be made in coming weeks

Asean

Foreign Minister to take part in ASEAN-related meetings

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has begun a suite of meetings” with her ASEAN and East Asia Summit counterparts, starting with the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last night.

That will be followed by the ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial Meeting today and the 28th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) tomorrow, which brings in a number of additional partners from across the Indo-Pacific.

All the meetings are via videoconference.

“Aotearoa New Zealand’s participation in the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum are important for their focus on the key political, economic and security issues of interest to the eighteen members of the EAS and the twenty seven members of the ARF,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

She said New Zealand’s major policy priorities for these meetings will be the pandemic, Myanmar, and maritime issues.

Last year New Zealand celebrated 45 years of relations with the ASEAN bloc.  The breadth of New Zealand’s cooperation with ASEAN reinforces the importance of partnerships across the region to advance NZ’s strategic interests.

Arts and heritage

Arts and heritage venues get helping hand

A new round of funding to support capital projects will help keep our arts and heritage sector alive and vibrant, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan announced.

The Regional Culture and Heritage Fund (RCHF) is a contestable fund of last resort that assists communities to complete capital fundraising for eligible projects.

Round Six of the fund has $7 million available to support capital projects with fundraising shortfalls. These capital projects could be for or in performing arts venues, galleries, museums, whare taonga, or heritage buildings that house significant taonga and collections in Aotearoa.

Typically the RCHF supports capital projects which involve upgrading existing buildings, including seismic strengthening, or the construction of new purpose-built facilities.

Twenty-three projects have been supported by the RCHF over the last five years, with Government investing a total of $37.994 million.

Six projects received grants during Round Five –

Waikato Regional Theatre, Hamilton ($3 million) towards its new building cost,

Aotea Utanganui – The Museum of South Taranaki, Patea ($164,000),

Mahara Gallery, Waikanae (up to $2.165 million),

Pātaka Art + Museum, Porirua ($279,000) towards improving collection storage spaces,

The Carnegie Building Project, Hokitika ($795,000), and

The Chatham Islands Museum ($202,000) towards costs to construct a new museum building.

Applications for Round Six of the RCHF are invited to apply by 5pm Friday, 3 September 2021.

Diplomacy

Foreign Ministers welcome opening of New Zealand High Commission in Colombo

New Zealand and Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministers, Nanaia Mahuta and Dinesh Gunawardena, have welcomed the opening of the New Zealand High Commission in Colombo next week.

The Foreign Ministers, who met virtually this week, spoke about the opening of the High Commission as a major milestone in the bilateral relationship. Both Ministers stressed that New Zealand’s diplomatic presence in Sri Lanka is a further affirmation of the significance of the steadily expanding bilateral engagement in recent times.

Ministers Mahuta and Gunawardena also discussed the (virtual) ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers Meeting on Friday 6 August.

The New Zealand High Commission in Colombo is due to open on Tuesday 10 August. An official opening ceremony will take place in due course, once conditions permit.

United Nations 

New Zealand to increase NZDF commitment to the United Nations Command, Republic of Korea

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will deploy three additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United Nations Command and its Military Armistice Commission from nine to 12 personnel.

The three additional personnel will take on new roles in the United Nations Command Headquarters. They will work alongside a broad range of contributing nations including the Republic of Korea, the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Thailand and Colombia.

The mandate for New Zealand’s longstanding deployment to the Republic of Korea has been extended to August 2023. The NZDF has contributed the United Nations Command and its Military Armistice Commission since 1998.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.