ZB ZB
Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Listen to NAME OF STATION
Up next
Listen live on
ZB

Defence Minister on her decision to deploy New Zealand troops into the Red Sea

Publish Date
Wed, 24 Jan 2024, 8:53AM
An Israeli navy missile boat patrols in the Red Sea. Photo Alberto Pizzoli / RNZ
An Israeli navy missile boat patrols in the Red Sea. Photo Alberto Pizzoli / RNZ

Defence Minister on her decision to deploy New Zealand troops into the Red Sea

Publish Date
Wed, 24 Jan 2024, 8:53AM

The Government's Defence Minister, Judith Collins, has described her clear-cut decision to deploy six New Zealand troops into the Red Sea to lend a hand in the ongoing conflict.

The six personnel will support New Zealand's traditional allies during the ongoing US-led mission to strike the Iran-backed Houthi rebels carrying out the attacks from Yemen.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced the military deployment today at his first post-Cabinet press conference of the year.

The team would be there to provide “precision targeting” through gathering intelligence information. It was expected they would not be directly involved in conflict.

Collins told Tim Dower on The Mike Hosking Breakfast that the war and the attacks shouldn't be conflated, as the attacks were going on long before the war in Gaza.

She said the troops would be assisting with the targeting of precision strikes, so they wouldn't be physically going into Yemen. The decision to deploy the troops was not a difficult one to arrive at, she said.

"You consider New Zealand is a nation that is absolutely dependent on trade, and we see mass disruption and extra cost added to the trading of containers, and the container ships," she said.

"But also the disruption and the danger that maritime people have been put under, just by trying to get these ships through the Red Sea, so it's not that difficult when we consider that we believe in freedom of the seas - it's a principled start."

Collins was asked if the decision was a political one, therefore there would be political ramifications for the decision - the Defence Minister said it was important the troops played by the rules.

She said it was only a few weeks ago that the security council declared the Houthi should stop their behaviour in the Red Sea, but that they should consider where the tensions in the world and geo-policy sit at the moment.

"Russia and China both abstained and did not use a power veto, which should give people a pretty good indication of the massive disruption that's occurring," said Collins.

The minister was also asked about the fact it was civilian maritime operations that were getting pulled into the middle of the Red Sea conflict, and that while the war was happening in a different part of the Middle East, between Israel and Gaza, people would often conflate the two.

But Collins said the Houthis had seized upon what was occurring between Hamas and Israel as being a reason they could ramp up their attacks.

"These attacks have been going on for quite a long time," she said.

"What's happened is the Houthis had assistance from their friends in Iran and like-minded people decided to turn this into a reason for their behaviour."

Collins said the deployment is the latest in a string of recent involvements in other conflicts around the globe, which was stretching New Zealand's military.

"We have quite a lot of deployment right now, particularly assisting Ukraine, it makes it difficult for Defence to do much more than what we're contributing right now," she admitted.

"And as you'll realise, last month it was pretty clear we were left with a situation of mass depletion and that we have a lot of work to do to rebuild Defense."

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you