Appendix 2: Establishing the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre

Effectiveness of arrangements for co-ordinating civilian maritime patrols.

The Maritime Patrol Review

In February 2001, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet conducted a maritime patrol review to consider New Zealand's civilian and military requirements for patrolling its oceans. The review found that about nine or ten government agencies were independently monitoring the oceans for their own needs, and there was little understanding of how well maritime patrols were carried out from a national perspective.

The report of the Maritime Patrol Review recommended establishing a maritime co-ordination centre. This was to be set up under the oversight of the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC).The maritime co-ordination centre would collect information and manage "tasking" for all forms of military and civilian maritime surveillance to meet civilian needs in:

  • New Zealand oceanic areas, including littoral waters, the NZ EEZ, the legal continental shelf extension, and the New Zealand Search and Rescue Area;
  • those areas of the South Pacific over which we have constitutional responsibilities or other arrangements;
  • the Ross Dependency, and that sector of the Southern Ocean; and
  • some ocean areas beyond those (to cover Customs and Police needs).17

These areas were elaborated through later work of the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre (the NMCC).

In April 2001, Cabinet agreed to establish a maritime co-ordination centre under ODESC oversight. This would be co-located with NZDF Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. NZDF and civilian government agencies would provide the staff. The co-ordination centre's mandate was to manage "tasking" to meet civilian maritime surveillance needs.

The National Maritime Co-ordination Centre pilot

After Cabinet's directive, the NMCC was piloted in 2002 to test how arrangements would work in practice. Initially, the NMCC comprised one person working at the New Zealand Customs Service's national office. An executive assistant was soon hired. An evaluation at the end of 2003 found that the pilot proved the benefits of government agencies working together through the NMCC. It was agreed that the NMCC should continue to function and be located at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. Agencies using maritime patrols were to promote awareness of the NMCC in their own organisations.

The NMCC was established permanently as a small independent unit physically located in NZDF premises, with the New Zealand Customs Service managing personnel and administrative arrangements, and the NMCC's work overseen by a network of chief executives on behalf of ODESC. The NMCC was funded by equal contributions from the agencies in the chief executives' network. The NMCC's services were available to any government agency. A cross-agency Working Group was established to help in its management.

In 2005, the NMCC's staffing expanded to include an operations manager, replacing a seconded NZDF operations officer. Two operations officer positions were added at the end of 2008.

By 2006, it became apparent that the shared governance arrangements, in particular the "club funding" arrangement, were no longer sustainable. More direct lines of accountability were needed to clarify responsibilities and provide certainty of future funding. A working group that included central agencies (such as the Treasury) produced the Governance Framework.18 Cabinet endorsed this framework in December 2006, under which the NMCC became a separate unit within the New Zealand Customs Service.

In 2006, the Cabinet Policy Committee established a new output expense for the NMCC within Vote Customs. Under this, the Minister of Customs would purchase co-ordination services for civilian purposes that support the effective and efficient use of New Zealand's whole-of-government maritime patrol and surveillance assets.

17: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2001), Maritime Patrol Review, Wellington, page 41.

18: National Maritime Co-ordination Centre (2006), National Maritime Co-ordination Centre Governance Framework, Wellington.

page top