A unique area is one thing, amazing geographic isolation enables with putting off threats. They primarily have to defend their Exclusive Economic Zone waters towards unlawful fishing and Fighter plane aren’t effective in doing so.
Politically, New Zealand has always performed its role to strengthen guidelines-primarily based behaviour within the international arena. Those policies need to trigger a sturdy reaction by means of the UN in case of hostilities toward our territory. Whether this will happen in the modern-day geopolitical weather is another topic.
However, that same geopolitical climate also suggests that New Zealand cannot rely on their traditional allies anymore. What they are getting from them is pressure to buy their increasingly expensive military gear, which is fiscally out of reach for a small nation such as New Zealand. New Zealand has much better use for that money, as indeed the entire world would benefit from pouring all that wasted military funding into social and environmental programmes.
Bottom line: Against a well organised large invasion force, New Zealand will always be a sitting duck. The huge shoreline is simply not defensible with our small fiscal and population base. But no large nation-state has anything to gain from invading it: Buying their milk powder, timber, wine and seafood on the open market is coming much cheaper than an invasion. Taking over ownership of the land is possible already by bidding in online real estate auctions. No boots on the ground are required.
Consequently, New Zealand does not have to defend itself against any credible military threat, only against economical pressure by the armaments industry to buy their expensive products. Most likely, those will be blown out of the sky or water on day one of war anyway, based on the next generation of weaponry being rolled out by the Chinese, Russians and Americans right now. The military is always planning for a war like the last one they fought, unable to accept that technological changes render most of their weaponry and strategies obsolete.
Refusing to play those war games and focusing its resources on realistic goals like fisheries patrols, SAR and disaster relief is a responsible and mature step for a small nation like New Zealand. All they need is a coast guard and a small territorial force for participating in peacekeeping missions abroad, also equipped and trained for disaster relief at home and in neighbouring island states.
A great example is the small Central American nation of Costa Rica, which has been a stable democracy for decades despite all the upheaval in the neighbouring countries, precisely because they made the wise decision to abolish their army in 1948.