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National Security Intelligence Priorities

The National Security Intelligence Priorities - Whakaarotau Marumaru Aotearoa - outline key areas of interest and define where intelligence can support government to make informed decisions about national security. 

The 13 National Security Intelligence Priorities cover a large range of actual and potential threats and risks to New Zealand’s national security.

The Priorities support intelligence and assessment agencies to prioritise effort and add value to decision-making. Many government agencies contribute intelligence on national security, including Immigration New Zealand, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs Service, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Government Communications Security Bureau and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.

“Intelligence” is processed information from a variety of sources that can help decision-makers achieve desired outcomes.

The 2021 Priorities

The 2021 National Security Intelligence Priorities were approved by Cabinet in November 2021. The previous version was approved in December 2018.

This version has begun to address relevant findings and recommendations made in the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Masjidain. These include comments made about the broadness of the Priorities and the need for the Priorities to support better system-wide coordination on national security and intelligence.

The 2021 version provides a detailed description of each Priority, known as the kete mōhiotanga (basket of knowledge). Each Priority also details key areas of focus for intelligence agencies and how they support relevant national security frameworks, including the National Security Objectives and national security-related government strategies.

A more detailed classified version of the Priorities is produced for agencies to use.

How the Priorities are developed and implemented

DPMC leads the development and implementation of the National Security Intelligence Priorities.

The Priorities guide agencies that provide intelligence, assessment, and other reporting on key national security issues.

The Priorities allow discretion within agencies to provide intelligence on issues that align with their individual capabilities, resources, and mandates.

National Security Intelligence Priorities


Biosecurity and human health

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Protecting the natural environment’ national security objective
  • Pandemic Plan and Biosecurity New Zealand Strategy
  • Relevant regulatory regimes

The kete focuses on understanding potential sources of threat to New Zealand’s biosecurity and human health, contributes to warning against potential incidents or outbreaks, and informs our responses. The biosecurity kete includes understanding new, novel and emerging pests and diseases, including the importation, release and spread of pests, diseases (infectious and non-communicable), pathogens and other biological risks (including genetically modified organisms), as well as current and emerging international biosecurity risks and drivers.

The health and food kete include understanding new, novel and emerging human diseases including the origin, importation, transmission and spread of human diseases and pandemics (including malicious or deliberate outbreaks), disease status, food safety, food fraud and food defence threats, the reliability of health-related information from other states or international reporting, reactions and mitigation strategies of other countries.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Early warning and trends
  • NZ response system (capability and developments)
  • Malicious threats and harm
  • Overseas approaches
  • Supply chain integrity
  • Research and development implications
  • International norms and governance
     

Climate change and environmental issues

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Protecting the natural environment’ national security objective
  • Relevant regulatory regimes

The kete focuses on understanding domestic and international climate change and environmental challenges that may impact New Zealand’s national security. The kete contributes to decision-making related to identifying, managing and mitigating national security issues for New Zealand driven by climate change, environmental and natural resources challenges and extreme weather events. The kete also provides intelligence to support New Zealand’s international environmental outlook.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • National and regional impacts of climate change
  • Natural resource exploitation and security impacts
  • International responses
  • Instability, trade and economic security impacts
  • Biodiversity
  • Research and development
     

Emerging, critical and sensitive technology

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Ensuring public safety’ and ‘protecting lines of communication’ national security objectives
  • Relevant regulatory regimes

The kete focuses on understanding harms, benefits, opportunities, and other current and future impacts for New Zealand of new technologies with potential national security concerns, old technologies used in new ways, and sensitive (including dual use and military) technologies that could disrupt New Zealanders’ way of life. The kete includes understanding intentions, capabilities, use, and methods of procurement and dissemination of technologies, potential implications for our international relationships from the use or development of technologies and mis/dis information issues relating to the technologies.

The kete also includes understanding the space domain, countries’ intentions in relation to it, and space-related technologies. This includes understanding external and domestic interests in using New Zealand for launches, ground stations and satellites, international use of space for military, strategic and other security purposes, and informing New Zealand’s involvement in the development of international space-related rules and norms.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Emerging developments impacting NZ
  • Disinformation and technology
  • Development and use of critical or sensitive technology
  • Technology competition
  • Dissemination of critical or sensitive technology
  • Space developments
  • Critical infrastructure vulnerabilities
     

Foreign interference and espionage

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Maintaining democratic institutions and national values’ national security objective

The kete focuses on understanding foreign activities used to exercise malign influence, interference, and espionage in or involving New Zealand, and intentions, capabilities, drivers, and the extent and impact of these activities. This includes understanding the range of vectors for espionage and interference and New Zealand’s vulnerability, to enable effective response.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Coercive statecraft of foreign actors against NZ
  • Economic espionage (significant industries)
  • Foreign interference targeting communities
  • Harm and the impact of foreign interference and espionage
  • Interference with our democracy
  • Espionage against NZ government entities
  • Manipulation of our information environment
  • Education sector interference
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Covert direct actions
     

Global economic security

This NSIP will support

  • 'Sustaining economic prosperity' national security objective
  • Relevant regulatory regimes

The kete focuses on understanding domestic, regional and global economic changes, challenges and opportunities that impact New Zealand’s interests. Changes and challenges include the impact of external economic disrupters, economic espionage and coercion, protectionism, consequences of immersion in global markets, and threats to trading routes, supply chains and overseas investment policies. The kete also includes understanding domestic, regional and global economic opportunities for New Zealand, positive and negative consequences of economic interdependence, and providing national advantage for New Zealand.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Flow on economic effects of COVID-19
  • External economic disrupters
  • International norms
  • Overseas investment policies
  • Online platforms and the digital economy
  • Free trade agreements
     

Global governance and strategic competition

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Strengthening international order to promote security’ national security objective
  • Relevant regulatory regimes

The kete focuses on understanding emerging global trends, changes and developments in global governance and strategic positioning by states that could impact New Zealand. Global governance focus includes the provision of intelligence to help ensure principles of international law (including human rights, human security and armed conflict law) and international treaty regimes and norms that are a priority for New Zealand are protected.

The kete also includes understanding efforts to degrade and disrupt areas of the international order in our interest. The strategic competition kete supports New Zealand to articulate a view on international strategic issues and take foreign policy positions in response to domestic and global developments in our interests. It helps us understand emerging trends and developments that could impact New Zealand. It also includes understanding dynamics and drivers for changes in domestic and regional leadership and governance in areas that affect our national interest. The kete also focuses weapons of mass destruction and weapons proliferation issues that affect New Zealand, including supporting our international counter-proliferation commitments.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Human rights abuses, threats to democracy and territory
  • International norms
  • Strategic competition
  • Disarmament and weapons proliferation
  • Middle East stability and actions in the region
  • Armed conflict
  • Emerging players, their intentions and the impact for NZ
     

Malicious cyber activity

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Protecting lines of communication’ national security objective
  • Proactively tackle cybercrime priority areas of the Cyber Security Strategy (2019-2023)

The kete focuses on understanding and identifying cyber threats to New Zealand from state-sponsored and non-state actors and contributes to New Zealand’s ability to defend against and reduce harm from cyber threats and proactively and collaboratively prevent, investigate, disrupt, deter and respond to cyber incidents. The kete includes understanding the national security implications of the development and use of offensive cyber capabilities, trends, strategies and characteristics of threat actors, the use of the cyber domain as a vector for other threats.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Malicious actors intentions and capability
  • Harms from malicious cyber activity
  • Vulnerability of key entities, infrastructure, supply chains
  • Impact of cyber crime
  • International norms
     

Maritime, border security and Antarctica

This NSIP will support

  • 'Preserving sovereignty and territorial integrity' national security objective
  • The 'Understand pillar' of the Maritime Security Strategy

The kete focuses on understanding threats to, or actual conflict in, New Zealand’s maritime domain and air borders and understanding international activity relating to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, particularly the Ross Dependency, which could impact our national security. The maritime security kete includes the prevention, detection and mitigation of risks introduced by malicious, unregulated, negligent or harmful activities within or approaching New Zealand’s maritime domain. It includes evolving trends and capability gaps that may improve or impact our ability to protect sea lines of communication and trade, fisheries and other natural resources within our EEZ, uphold international law, and fulfil New Zealand’s search and rescue obligations. Other domains of the kete include threats from or involving cargo, mail systems and international aviation in New Zealand, efforts to preserve, and activities that threaten the Antarctic Treaty system and New Zealand’s interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • NZ Maritime Domain Awareness
  • Border security
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Antarctica
     

New Zealand’s strategic interests in the Asia region

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Strengthening international order to promote security’ national security objective

The kete focuses on understanding how New Zealand’s national security is affected by domestic and regional security issues in the Asia region, geostrategic competition across the region, and international interactions in and with the region. The kete includes understanding decisions that may affect New Zealand (for instance trade and foreign policy decisions and defence activities) and the impact of resulting actions for our national security.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Strategic competition, including objectives, influence and approach
  • Asia regional stability
  • Political resilience, human rights, and governance
  • Asian trading policies
     

New Zealand’s strategic interests in the Pacific region

This NSIP will support

  • ‘Strengthening international order to promote security’ national security objective

The kete focuses on understanding domestic and regional security issues in Pacific Island Countries (PICs). This includes understanding the range of current and emerging threats to the stability, security, resilience and governance of the Pacific region, for instance geostrategic competition across the Pacific region, foreign interference and espionage in PICs, economic stability and vulnerabilities within PICs, and transboundary issues such as climate change, resource exploitation, transnational organised crime, maritime issues, information sharing, mis/dis information, impact of COVID-19 and people smuggling. The kete will also support planning, preparation and conduct of New Zealand’s response to humanitarian and disaster events and other support to PICs in times of instability.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Strategic competition in the Pacific, including intentions and vulnerabilities
  • Pacific nations’ security and stability (including impact of COVID-19)
  • Transnational organised crime in the Pacific
  • Irregular migration, people smuggling and exploitation
  • Climate change and impacts for the Pacific
     

Terrorism and violent extremism

This NSIP will support

  • 'Ensuring public safety' national security objective
  • Understand/Mōhio aim of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The kete focuses on the detection and understanding of terrorism and violent extremism threats (referred to as violent extremism threats for the purpose of this NSIP) that could affect New Zealand, New Zealanders, and our interests overseas. This includes the identification of likely sources of violent extremism threats and their potential terrorist methods, including radicalisation, facilitation, planning, financing and other forms of support. The kete also includes understanding the trends and characteristics of the violent extremism strategic environment (both physical and cyber domains) and how they relate to New Zealand.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Domestic threats
  • International threats to New Zealanders or New Zealand interests overseas
  • Travellers and goods leaving or returning to NZ, and goods used to commit acts of terrorism and violent extremism
  • Financing or facilitating
     

Threats to New Zealanders overseas

This NSIP will support

  • 'Ensuring public safety' and ‘strengthening international order to promote security’ national security objectives

The kete focuses on understanding threats to the physical safety and security of; mandated missions (conflict or peacekeeping), deployments/operations and major exercises, including NZDF deployed personnel; New Zealand diplomatic posts and their staff in high risk locations; major events organised or endorsed by the New Zealand government that New Zealanders will attend or participate in; and other New Zealanders, on a reactive and case-by-case basis, whose safety is threatened overseas. The kete also supports the conduct of safe and successful military operations, and strategic understanding of developments overseas that could adversely affect the safety of New Zealanders overseas.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Threats to mandated missions or operations
  • Threats and risks impacting major events overseas
  • Threats to diplomatic missions
  • Changing dynamics overseas
  • Success of NZDF operations
  • Safety of specified New Zealanders overseas
     

Transnational serious and organised crime

This NSIP will support

  • 'Sustaining economic prosperity' and 'preserving sovereignty and territorial integrity' national security objectives
  • Transnational Organised Crime Strategy (2020-2025), Anti-corruption work programme, Anti-money laundering/ Countering Financing of Terrorism Strategy, Plan of action to Prevent People Trafficking

The kete focuses on understanding threats to New Zealand from transnational serious crime [crime originating overseas but not linked to organised groups] and transnational organised crime [linked to organised groups] that originates outside New Zealand or crosses borders and impacts New Zealand (including if the activity originated in New Zealand). It includes criminal activities associated with transnational crime that may impact New Zealand, including the movement of money, goods and people.  The kete also includes detecting serious crime, trends and enablers that make transnational crime more efficient, effective, undetectable or disguisable and providing intelligence to help ensure that international criminals do not use New Zealand to support their activities.

Some of our key areas of focus include:

  • Transnational organised crime threats to New Zealand and Pacific Islands
  • Methods including technology that facilitate
  • Financial and legal structures and New Zealand vulnerabilities
  • Irregular migration and people smuggling
  • Illicit commodities
Last updated: 
Thursday, 16 December 2021

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