In 2001 the Maritime Patrol Review (MPR) was published by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to determine the maritime patrol requirements of interested civilian government departments; such as Ministry of Fisheries, Customs, Foreign Affairs, Maritime Safety Authority, Police, Department of Conservation and others. The Review was driven by the planned $600m sensor system upgrade to the RNZAF's P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which the new Labour Government saw no real justification for. The Review highlighted the poor state of maritime domain awareness in New Zealand in general, and of maritime aerial surveillance in particular. The threats to maritime security are many and include illegal fishing, drug smuggling, illegal immigration, terrorist activity, energy security, and transnational crime generally. The review concluded that a 10 times increase in aerial maritime surveillance was needed to meet the minimum requirements of the various government departments.
Eight years have now passed since The Review and it is timely to revisit the state of maritime domain awareness in New Zealand to assess what, if any, progress has been made. This thesis has found that there has been no increase in aerial maritime surveillance during the intervening period and that the NZDF is either unwilling or unable to fulfil government defence policy in respect to protection of New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone. Research indicates that the aerial maritime surveillance requirements of civilian government departments may have increased and that considerable gaps continue to exist in maritime domain awareness and thus maritime security. This thesis contends that UAVs provide a credible option to manned aircraft and bring a number of unique advantages. The need to increase maritime surveillance exists now, and with a potentially less stable global strategic situation together with a potential increase in off-shore energy activity, the need to plan for increased aerial maritime surveillance is compelling.