WELLINGTON — Publication of New Zealand’s 2015 defense white paper (DWP) may be have been disrupted with publication pushed to 2016.

The first indication of a delay came from Defence Secretary Helene Quilter, who in an article in the August issue of the Royal New Zealand  Air Force's magazine Air Force News mentioned that the 2015 DWP would be published "next year."

When New Zealand's 2010 DWP was published, the government promised further iterations every five years. Accordingly, earlier this year the same process began again, including a public consultation document inviting New Zealanders to comment on the country's defencse policy. 

The 2010 DWP was eight months late and didn’t appear until November that year. That delay was announced and explained by the then Minister of Defence Ministry in early in the year 2010.

This year, however, the first indication of a delay came from Secretary of Defence, Helene Quilter, who in an article for the Royal New Zealand  Air Force (RNZAF) magazine 'Air Force News,' mentioned that the DWP would be published 'next year.'

Asked about this year's Defense News queried this apparent delay both with the Minister of Defence and with the Secretary of Defence., The Minister’s Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee's office told Defense News that it had always been intended that the Defence Wwhite paper would be completed by the end of 2015 and published thereafter.

Helene Quilter, head of the Ministry of Defence, echoed the minister’s statement.

"Our plan has always been to have a completed DWP by the end of the year with publication to follow," she told Defense News. "We are working hard to achieve publication by Dec. 31st December, and but given it’s the Christmas and New Year period when people are on holiday and printing firms are closed, it may be that publication would follow."

The reason DefenseNews queried the timing was that Earlier in the year, Brownlee, the Minister of Defence, both in print and orally, spoke of publishing the DWP this year.

Now both the Minister and the Ministry are arguing that the intent was simply to complete the White Paper this year, with publication to follow — although how it could still be termed a 2015 DWP if not published until 2016 is unclear.

Whether it appears this year or next, the forthcoming DWP will address a number of expensive choices that are on the visible horizon:

• A replacement for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s fleet tanker/replenishment ship is due to enter service by mid-2019, and the two Anzac-class frigates have already passed the mid-way point of their 30-year service life. 

• The Air Force's fleets of five C-130H Hercules and six P-3K2 Orions are close to their end of life despite recent upgrades. The Hercules entered service in 1965 and the Orions in 1966.  The Air Force's two Boeing 757s are also earmarked for retirement soon. Replacements for the B-757s and C-130s is "intended to occur" between 2018-2025.

• As well the New Zealand Defence Force still has not committed itself to acquiring modern UAVs. A fresh look at this capability is scheduled before 2020.

• In addition to Of course it is not as simple as finding money for new platforms, for there is a concurrent need for suitable people to operate them and, especially for the RNZNavy, there is no sign yet of filling the gaps in specialiszed personnel.