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Risks

What risks does New Zealand face?
 
Risks essentially come down to two kinds. Human and Natural. There is also an overlap between human and natural.
The following table is a quick analysis of the potential hazards which could cause significant economic loss, either directly or via political reaction to the hazard.
 Hazard  Risk  Return Period
 Bollides
Chelyabinsk bollide
The damage from meteors ranges from minimal to threatening all life on earth.All historical meteorite impacts in New Zealand have caused minimal damage. There is however a suggestion that an impact crater south of Stewart Island (see Mahuika Crater) which is 20km across may have been caused by a bollide impact around 1443. Primary evidence is posited megatsunamis deposits around the Southern Ocean. Tsunami expert James Goff however contends this evidence is misinterpreted.  Inconsequential bollide impacts occur all the time. A serious one can be regarded as a 1 in 1 million year event.
 Solar radiation
 Solar radiation keeps the world alive, however it doesn't take much of an increase to create problems. One of the main ones is electromagnetic storms. These create induced currents on long aerials such as power lines and telephone lines. The result can be loss of power as circuits trip off, or, in the worse case scenario become overloaded. The 1859 Geomagnetic storm overloaded telegraph wires resulting in shocks. The 1989 storm tripped off the power system in Quebec Canada.Complete geomagnetic field reversals (where the magnetic North pole becomes the South) occur every 200,000 years but the last  one was 780,000 years ago. It might be considered "overdue" but the mechanism is unknown. Unknown. A minor event every 100 years might be expected.
 Volcano
 The North Island of New Zealand is essentially one big volcano. The biggest is Taupo, one of the world's largest volcanoes. Another significant volcano is Rangitoto, the youngest volcano in the Auckland urban volcanic field. Historic volcanic eruptions include Mt Tarawera which blew this mountain apart. Volcanoes generate earthquakes, Tsunami, ash-clouds, poisonous gases, pumice rain, lahar, lava flows, slips and lightening storms. The Rangitoto eruption lasted up to 200 years. While minor volcanism can disrupt tourism serious events could destroy Auckland, or the Waikato hydro stations. A completely cataclysmic event could render New Zealand virtually uninhabitable.
 
This is a local government / department of civil defence and emergency management responsibility.
Minor vulcanism can be expected every 25 years. Serious eruptions every 500 years. Cataclysmic eruptions every 5000 years.
 Earthquake
Christchurch 2011 (Wikipedia)
 The 2010-11 Christchurch Earthquakes have taken  New Zealanders by surprise. Not, because they occurred but because the major earthquake was expected in Wellington. The previous most destructive earthquake was the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake of 80 years ago. Prior to that was the 1855 Wairarapa Earthquake which damaged early Wellington.

 Formed by the collision of the Australian and Pacific plates New Zealand is inevitably an Earthquake prone country. Fortunately to date loss of life from Earthquakes has been relatively modest. The economic, social and psychological impact, however has been enormous.
 
This is a local government responsibility.
 A serious urban Earthquake can be expected every 80 years.
 Tsunami
2010 Tsunami, Japan
 New Zealand has suffered from large Tsunami in the past. Tsunami up to 12m have been uncovered in the strata along some New Zealand shorelines dating back around 500 years. Modelling shows that large Earthquakes as far away as Chile can generate Tsunamis which even if modest in themselves could, depending on the tides, inundate some of our cities. Of course remote Tsunamis are less dangerous than local ones. These can be triggered by Earthquakes, Volcanoes or land-slips.

The Samoa Earthquake and Tsunami was an event which had a significant impact on New Zealand which is home to 77,247 Samoans (169,000 live in Samoa).
Tsunami in New Zealand have proved to be unlikely and elusive. Small Tsunami are a high-tide risk to many cities.
 Cyclone/Flood

TEV Wahine before sinking
Cyclones Giselle (The Wahini storm) and Bola have demonstrated the need for careful management of major weather events. Outcomes include damage to homes, infrastructure and services, flooding with loss of stock, and access, coastal erosion, dangerous sea-states, and loss of trees. Normally tropical cyclones do not involve particularly cold conditions including snow. Throughout cyclones there is a risk of loss of human life.
 
This is a local government / department of civil defence and emergency management responsibility.
Cylones and their attendant floods are inevitable. Major events can be expected at least once a decade.
 Pandemic
US Flu hospital (Wikipedia)
The 1918 "Spanish Flu" or H1N1 Pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people. New Zealand lost 8,573 people but failed to implement effective quarantines which led to huge loses in the less protected Pacific Islands. 

The prospect for future H1N1 or similar Pandemics remains high as conditions ( high human population density, reliance on pork and chicken in Asia, and misuse of drugs needed to fight secondary infections) have only worsened. Developments in South Africa and Russia during the 1980s have shown states have pursued biological warfare options.
 
This is a Ministry of Health responsibility.
Modern international cooperation on disease control is extremely effective. That said the evolution of pathogens is accelerating and the risks grow daily. A return period of 100 years is estimated.
 Agricultural epidemic
2001 Foot and Mouth Outbreak (The Guardian)
Foot and Mouth disease is the bogey of New Zealand's pastoral based industries. A 2003 assessment of the damage the disease could do the country by Treasury and the Reserve Bank estimated a $6 billion loss in the first year, with on-going losses in subsequent years.

New Zealand has suffered serious biosecurity breaches. The Varroa mite which attacks honeybees an essential pollinator of many crops, is thought to have arrived here in 1998.
Deliberate attacks cannot be ruled out.
 
This is a Biosecurity New Zealand responsibility.
Biosecurity threats are a very serious matter for New Zealand. To date, however no outbreaks requiring civilian containment have occurred. A return period of 100 years is estimated.
 Chemical fire/gas

New Zealand's largest chemical fire occurred 21 December 1984 at the ICI store in Riverview, Mount Wellington Auckland. 340 fire-fighters were involved in fighting the fire which took seven days to completely extinguish. Chemicals in the fire included Paraquat and 2-4-5-T as well as chlorine based swimming pool chemicals.

The long-term health effects on the fire-fighters were not optimal but there were no other casualties. A fire at Te Aroha meatworks on 4 December 2010 posed a risk of ammonia from refrigeration.
 
This is a New Zealand Fire Service Responsibility.

Chemical fires are an on-going potential hazard for the fire service. A return period of 25 years is estimated.
 Chemical/oil spill
Rena clean-up (Maritime New Zealand)
The worst oil spill in New Zealand's history has been the grounding of the MV Rena on the Astrolabe reef outside Tauranga harbour on 5 October 2011. The container ship was fueled with 1700 tonnes of fuel oil when she struck. Only some of this oil ended up in the sea but the effect on Tauranga (which is known for its beaches and shellfish) has been significant.

In some respects this disaster has been relatively minor compared to what could happen if a tanker was wrecked. However it highlights a growing risk.
 
This is a Maritime New Zealand responsibility.
There has only been one large spill in New Zealand history but close-shaves have happened before. A return period of once a decade is estimated.
 Uncontrolled/Unsustainable fishing
Orange Roughy in nets
The Orange Roughy is an excellent example of what happens when fisheries are pillaged. As this article summarises the fishery was mismanaged due to inadequate research and an enthusiasm for market-based control mechanisms. 

The fishery was closed in October 2000 after being all but wiped out. The Ministry of Fisheries is now attempting to re-open a very limited allowance to fish for Orange Roughy.
 
This is a Ministry of Fisheries responsibility
 Fisheries management is an on-going duty of the Ministry of Fisheries in conjunction with NIWA.
 Piracy
Indonesian pirates
Piracy has become one of the main industries of the failed state of Somalia. It is also not unknown in the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea and the Niger Delta. It is estimated it costs the world $16 billion per year.

The object of piracy is profit. Typically the largest profits accrue from ship ransoms but captive ransoms and looting can also contribute to pirate's takings.
 
This is a Royal New Zealand Navy responsibility.
New Zealand ships have taken part in international actions against Somali (but not Indonesian) pirates.
 Maritime Search and Rescue
 The RNZAF carries out seven to 15 SAR missions per year. Search and rescue is a corollary of fisheries patrol in that the same capability is needed for both.
 
This is generally a Coastguard responsibity but NZDF provides long range support to both New Zealand and the islands.
 Maritime SAR can be regarded as business as usual.
 Cyberwarfare
UAV footage on Youtube
Cyberwarfare involves the use of telecommunications networks to attack state assets. Cyberwarfare can be conducted by both state and non-state agents for a range of reasons from sheer curiosity to military actions. 
The Israeli secret service used the Stuxnet worm in place of air strikes to disable Iranian U-235 processing. The attack removed the need for casualties but was very effective.Scientific American suggests small powers are a greater risk. The Iranian's have responded by capturing an RQ170 Sentinel stealth drone (reportedly by hacking) in a move which will send shudders down the spines of all users of unpiloted aerial vehicles.
 
New Zealand organisations are often attacked by crackers. This can be regarded as an on-going risk. 
 Terrorism

Mumbai terrorist Mohammed Kasab
Terrorism is an act of war by non-state actors generally motivated by ethnic territorial claims or extreme ideological views. It differs from criminal mass murders in that it is organised and intended to provoke a response from the target nation. The economics of terrorism are simply to generate unsustainable costs in the target nation so as to bring it to either negotiation or capitulation. The nations of Ireland and Israel were both originally formed following terrorist action. The African National Congress was also once regarded as a terrorist organisation.
 
New Zealand passed the terrorism suppression act in 2002. Terrorism response is predominantly a Police role
New Zealand has not had any terrorism experience.
 State Sabotage/Mining
Rainbow Warrior, Auckland Harbour (Greenpeace)
Sabotage is an act of war by clandestine state-sponsored actors. Sabotage is motivated by political and national objectives and usually carried out by espionage or special forces personnel.
 
The German raider Orion sank the RMS Niagara and HMS Puriri in 1940 by leaving sea mines off Bream Head in Northland.
State sabotage using mines as deployed against the Rainbow Warrior in July 1985 killing Fernando Pereira is now rare. The attack was a political fiasco for the French Government and proved such methods are a liability. However the recent use of the Stuxnet worm  by Israel against Iran has shown states may use unconventional weapons to achieve their ends.
 
This is primarily a New Zealand Police responsibility.
A return period of 50 years seems reasonable.
 State failure
Honiara, Solomon Island (source BBC)
The failure of small, economically vulnerable nation-states can create political and humanitarian crises. Already the Economist is describing the Solomon Islands as such a state. Ominously they describe this as the first such Pacific failure. Certainly the economic outlook for Oceania over the next few decades is not promising. The on-going political problems in Fiji, one of the Pacific's larger nations, can only be regarded with concern by its neighbours. It is clear that the security of the Pacific will rely on the future prosperity of the Pacific. This in turn will require the ability of Pacific nations to be able to access and manage their own resources.  Since the foundation of the UN this has not officially occured at all in the Pacific. However a period of 15 years may not be unreasonable.
 Low intensity proxy wars
RNZAF Iroquois in Timor-Leste
Low-intensity proxy war occurs when nation-states intervene in other nation states in a clandestine or indirect fashion. Rather than carry out severe military attacks the aggressors typically operate as local bullies intimidating civilians or closing trade routes. The target is typically civilian populations rather than military defenders. Attacks on military defenders will be limited to taunting attacks or limited challenges to authority designed to force redeployments. In some cases the main reason for low intensity warfare is fear of high intensity warfare.
 
This is an NZDF responsibility
 New Zealand was involved in Malaya and Timor Leste. This suggests a period of 25 years.
Occupation/Guerilla Wars
NZ soldiers perform haka in Bamiyan, Afghanistan
Occupation/Guerilla wars occur when a super-power occupies a smaller nation, and the citizens of the smaller nation undertake a guerilla campaign to resist the invader. These are more dangerous than low-intensity wars but not as dangerous as high intensity wars. Historically these have proved to be highly successful. Only two: the "Malayan Emergency" and the Aden "Emergency" have not resulted in the withdrawal of the superpower's forces. The United States in particular has a particularly poor score-card at occupying other nations. New Zealand has assisted this process twice, for diplomatic reasons.
 
This is an NZDF responsibility
The US seems to embark on these "live fire" exercises every 25 years or so.
 High intensity war
The Battle of Coral Sea 1942
High intensity war is extremely expensive. It costs in economic resources, diverted resources, and, of course, lives and injuries.

High intensity war has probably reached the stage where it is too expensive to be considered viable by all but the most backward of nations. Essentially for modern developed economies (eg Taiwan-China or Pakistan-India) more will be lost from high intensity war than gained. This may change as raw material prices (in particular oil prices) rise. The denial of US oil to Japan was the fundamental catalyst for the Pacific War 1941-1945. 
 
This is an NZDF responsibility
High intensity war in South East Asia is highly unlikely. The region does have tensions over the Spratley Islands but there is little economic or political incentive  to start a war in the region at this time.
 Submarine Sneak Attack
HMS Conqueror flies the Jolly Roger having sunk ARA Belgrano
 Submarines cost a lot of money. The Australian Government estimates it will cost it A$25 billion to replace its six Collins Class submarines. The Indonesians are now planning to buy new submarines. Thailand and Vietnam already have some. The contending designs are the Russian Kilo class, the French Scorpene class and the German U209 type. Of these only the U209 type has the range to conduct operations in New Zealand or its island territories waters. The Australians however might have some valid concerns.
 
While submarines are hard to find their cost limits their usefulness in combat to sniping at high-value enemy assets (eg Belgrano). Otherwise their main targets are civillian shipping. The use of submarines since the sinking of the Argentine light cruiser ARA Belgrano in 1981 has been limited to bombardment using Tomahawk cruise missiles (which none of the above submarines can do).
 Submarines have not caused any significant damage to New Zealand even during World War Two. This is despite the fact that Japanese and German reconnaisance submarines did reach Cook Strait and Auckland.
 Antarctic Responsibility
The tanker Lawrence H. Gianella sits alongside the ice pier at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
(National Science Foundation)
Credit and Larger Version
 
New Zealand is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty and (with a great deal of help from the United States) maintains a territorial claim to the Antarctic (which the US does not recognise). The Antarctic is particularly vulnerable to pollution, over-fishing and climate change.
 
New Zealand's main threat is the political questioning of its moral authority to maintain a territorial claim to an area which it does little to protect or support.
The main risk in the Antarctic is moral as it has no economic value.
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