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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


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Ministry of Defence

In its report of June 1962 the Royal Commission on State Services recommended that a small Department of Defence be established under a Secretary of Defence to advise the Minister of Defence on defence commitments, on the broad programme of defence expenditure for the present and the immediate future, and on the allocation of defence funds among the three Services. The new department would also advise the Minister on matters of joint-Services activities, integration, and conditions of service in the Armed Forces, and provide staff and facilities for joint-Service activities, especially for serving the Chiefs of Staff Committee and any other committees attached to it. After consideration by Government, the Minister of Defence announced in December 1962 the Government's decision to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The decision included approval for the appointment of a Secretary of Defence and of an independent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and for the creation of an inter-departmental Officials' Committee to provide an advisory forum in which the military, strategic, economic, financial, and foreign policy aspects of defence policy could be brought together.

The Department of Defence, as envisaged in the report of the Royal Commission, would be a small “fourth department”, coordinating the activities of three independent Service Departments (like the Ministry of Defence in the British defence machinery as it existed at that time). The Government recognised, however, that the opportunity should be taken, when establishing a new pattern of defence administration for New Zealand, to consider whether a more closely knit organisation should be created. The Minister of Defence investigated the Australian higher defence administrative machinery during a visit to Australia in September 1962, and as a result of this visit and exchanges of views with senior officials from other overseas countries, an outline defence organisation for New Zealand was developed. Consequently on 18 June 1963 the appointment was announced of J. K. Hunn as Secretary of Defence, and on 1 July 1963 Rear Admiral P. Phipps was named as Chief of Defence Staff (the title and role eventually preferred by the Government for the position originally described as independent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee).

A Unitary Department

On 29 October 1963 the Government decided that the Ministry of Defence should be a unitary Department, combining not only all joint-Service functions but also the Departments of Army, Navy, and Air as distinct components, subject to certain conditions, with administrative effect from 1 January 1964. Accordingly, the Ministry is now operating as a unitary Department. The central core of the new Ministry of Defence is the Defence Office, which has a small composite civilian and military staff under the direction of the Secretary of Defence, and the Chief of Defence Staff, in their capacities as the principal civil and military advisers to the Government on defence matters.

Joint Intelligence Bureau

The Joint Intelligence Bureau was transferred on 1 January 1965 from the Prime Minister's Department to the Ministry of Defence, but will continue to service the Prime Minister's Department, the Department of External Affairs, and the Ministry of Defence on all intelligence matters.


McLintock, Alexander Hare