The state of the NZDF today

By Te Ao - Māori News

While the focus of Anzac Day is mainly on the past deeds and sacrifices of New Zealand’s armed forces, it’s also a chance to reflect on the New Zealand Defence Force’s contributions in the present day.

Right now, the NZDF is one of the largest employers of Māori in New Zealand.  1,904 personnel identify as Māori , which is around 12.5% of the entire force of just under 16,000.

The country’s highest-profile soldier of recent times, Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Willie Apiata, is of Ngāpuhi descent.

Former Major General Jerry Mateparae is Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Kahungunu and rose through the ranks to become Chief of Staff of the NZDF.

After his retirement from the role in 2011, Mateparae became Governor-General in 2011, and is currently the High Commissioner for the NZ Embassy in London.

While the vast majority of NZDF personnel are based in New Zealand, there are approximately 250 serving on 11 publically disclosed operations overseas.

The most high profile is the unit in Afghanistan, where New Zealand has been involved in the US-led 'War on Terror' for the better part of two decades.  

It hasn’t been without cost or controversy, the deployment there has seen 10 NZDF members killed, and a raid on a village in Bamyan province by the SAS in 2010 which allegedly resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

Around half of the NZDF members overseas are currently in Iraq, where they are working to train local army recruits.

In contrast, the unit based in South Sudan numbers only five, and is assisting with the humanitarian efforts in a region devastated by war and famine.

As well as those, the NZDF also has postings in Antarctica, the Arabian Sea, Bahrain, Egypt, Fiji, the Golan Heights (a contested region between Israel, Lebanon and Syria), Mali and South Korea.