New Zealand will increase its military presence in South Korea, the Government has announced.

It will increase more than four fold, from 12 people to up to 53. It would increase the size of New Zealand’s contribution to the United Nations Command (UNC) and its Military Armistice Commission.

Defence Minister Judith Collins said the decision reflected New Zealand’s strong commitment to the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand’s “need to step up to better support peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and the Indo-Pacific more widely”.

“This deployment is an excellent opportunity for our NZDF personnel to utilise their skills, leadership and experience in a multinational environment.”

Up to six of the additional personnel would assume roles in the UNC Honour Guard.

An infantry platoon of up to 35 of the additional personnel would join the UNC Security Battalion, which operated in the Demilitarised Zone – an area established between North and South Korea in the Korean War’s armistice.

Those personnel would work alongside other contributing nations, including the Republic of Korea (South Korea’s official name), the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said substantially increasing the size of New Zealand’s deployment in the Republic of Korea reflected the importance New Zealand placed on collective security efforts aimed at supporting peace, stability and the international rules-based system in the Indo-Pacific region – and particularly on the Korean Peninsula.

The mandate for the long-standing deployment to the Republic of Korea has been extended until September 2026, a statement from both Ministers’ office said.

The NZDF has contributed to the UNC and its Military Armistice Commission since 1998.