New Zealand has significant and enduring interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

These include peace, security and effective governance in Antarctica, together with environmental, scientific, conservation, reputational and economic interests.

These interests are outlined in the 2002 New Zealand Statement of Strategic Interest, available here [PDF, 267 KB].

We have developed a revised, "plain English", statement of New Zealand’s Interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean to more clearly articulate our enduring interests and how New Zealand will promote those interests.

Public consultation on the draft statement was recently completed. We are now considering that feedback and will finalise the revised statement shortly.  

Draft statement

New Zealand is committed to the responsible stewardship of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for the benefit of present and future generations.

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are important to New Zealand because:

  • We value a safe and secure region to the south of New Zealand. 
  • New Zealand has maintained a claim to the Ross Dependency since 1923 and is one of the twelve original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959.
  • We want to protect Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. 
  • Understanding the role of Antarctica in global systems will help us improve New Zealand’s resilience to climate change and other environmental challenges. 
  • New Zealand values a healthy and productive Southern Ocean and is committed to protecting its biodiversity. 
  • New Zealand is the Gateway to the Ross Sea region and our ecosystems are connected to Antarctic and the Southern Ocean.

To support these interests, New Zealand will:

  • Prioritise the environmental protection of Antarctica and follow best practice in our engagement in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. 
  • Support science that contributes to understanding the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in global systems and the impact of global environmental changes on Antarctica.
  • Ensure Scott Base is fit for future generations and air and maritime assets are capable of operating in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
  • Strengthen the Antarctic Treaty System to ensure the impacts of human activity are limited, Antarctica’s value as a place for science is prioritised, and international rules governing all actors and activities in Antarctica are implemented.
  • Apply precautionary and ecosystem approaches to the conservation and sustainable management of living marine resources in the Southern Ocean.
  • Continue to be an international leader in efforts to eliminate whaling and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the Southern Ocean.
  • Be a leader in the implementation of the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area, and the establishment, protection and management of representative special areas in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
  • Tell the story of New Zealand’s connection to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, through science, environmental protection, conservation, heritage and logistical support.
  • Strengthen Christchurch’s position as the international gateway to the Ross Sea region, ensuring we provide high-quality services to and collaboration with other nations. 

A PDF version of the statement can be downloaded here [PDF, 139 KB].