Outer space

Outer space activity enables a growing number of critical services on Earth with an array of commercial, humanitarian, scientific and security applications.

As a user of space services, and as one of few space launching states, New Zealand has a strong interest in working with others to ensure the space environment remains peaceful, sustainable, safe and secure.

Role of the New Zealand Government

The earth seen from space.

The New Zealand Space Agency(external link) is the lead government agency for space policy, regulation and sector development in New Zealand.

Working with the New Zealand Space Agency and other government agencies, MFAT contributes to the development of international space policy, including engagement on space security, from space debris to the weaponisation of space, through United Nations space fora and engagement with international partners.

New Zealand’s National Space Policy

In 2023, the New Zealand government announced its National Space Policy(external link) which outlines New Zealand’s values and objectives on space. It is a key tool to help officials across government inform space policy development and undertake engagements on space in New Zealand and internationally.

Promoting the responsible uses of space internationally

New Zealand prioritises international engagement on outer space issues, including within the United Nations and in partnership with like-minded states, in alignment with our values and interests. International agreements are an important way to help ensure that outer space activity remains safe and sustainable and the orbital environment remains accessible to all.

New Zealand is party to the main international space treaties and these are reflected in our domestic laws and policies related to space. Although these international agreements provide the legal framework for space activity, the global space context has evolved in the decades since many of the agreements were reached, including through the growing number of countries and commercial operators active in space, the development of new space technologies and the rapid increase in the amount of space activity.

Further work is needed to ensure that the international regulatory framework for all space activities is fit-for-purpose in the modern space context. We will continue to advocate for additional rules, norms and standards where these are needed, for instance to help mitigate the growing risk of orbital debris.

Space Security

The increasing global reliance on space-enabled capabilities and the growing number of space actors increases the risk of conflict on Earth extending to space. New Zealand recognises the potential impacts of space conflict and supports global efforts to reduce this risk.

To that end, we support international efforts to develop norms and principles of responsible behaviour in space as a pragmatic way forward. This approach does not preclude the development of a legally-binding mechanism on space security.

In 2021, New Zealand submitted ideas to the UN General Assembly(external link) on the further development and implementation of norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours and on the reduction of the risks of misunderstanding and miscalculations with respect to outer space.


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