New Zealand's Defence Minister Andrew Little poses for a picture in Wellington
New Zealand's Defence Minister Andrew Little poses for a picture in Wellington, New Zealand, March 30, 2023. Reuters

The New Zealand Defence Force will get an additional NZ$748 million ($472.14 million) over four years, as the government tries to stop the loss of military personnel and ensure the country's military can operate alongside allies and partners.

Andrew Little said in a statement that the government would invest a further NZ$419 million in defence force salaries and NZ$328 million to upgrade assets and infrastructure over four years.

"With climate change and an increasingly contested geostrategic environment, including in our Pacific neighbourhood, it is important that New Zealand has the personnel and equipment to play our part in supporting global peace and security," Little said.

Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said in an email that the new funding was the most meaningful funding allocation the military had received in many years, and was great news.

The defence force has been struggling with high staff attrition, which has led to the idling of three ships and the early retirement of the P-3 Orion aircraft fleet, leaving New Zealand with limited air surveillance capability. The challenges come as competition is increasing in the Pacific, climate change is adding to the number of natural disasters and New Zealand is providing support to Ukraine.

The infrastructure investment will upgrade the country's frigates and Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, as well as build a new fuel precinct at Ohakea air force base on the North Island. The salary increase will mean 90% of NZDF personnel are paid at or near market rates.

In the last two years, the Regular Force - full-time military personnel - has lost 29.8% of its personnel, excluding those who have served less than two years. That number is expected to hit 32.6% by June 30 if nothing is done as the defence force has struggled to match private-sector wages.

($1 = 1.5843 New Zealand dollars)