New Zealand names new Chiefs of Army and Navy

New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating has welcomed the appointments of the new Chief of Army and Chief of Navy announced today by Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Brigadier Peter Kelly has been appointed as the next Chief of Army and Commodore John Martin has been appointed as the next Chief of Navy.

“I want to congratulate both officers on their success in being appointed to these very important positions,” says Lieutenant General Keating.

“The roles of the chiefs of the three services are to raise, train and sustain their respective service. These positions are of vital importance to both the service concerned – whether that is Army, Navy or Air Force – and the wider Defence Force.”

Brigadier Kelly will formally take up the role as Chief of Army at a powhiri and handover ceremony at Waiouru on 10 September, and will be promoted to major general.

Commodore John Martin currently leads capability development for the New Zealand Defence Force as Assistant Chief Capability. He will formally take up his new role on 30 November, and will be promoted to rear admiral.

Brigadier Kelly has been acting Chief of Army since Major General Dave Gawn left the position in late July to be Head of Mission and Chief of Staff to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation.

Current Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Jack Steer will be retiring from the Navy at the end of November.

“I want to thank Jack Steer for his long and valuable service to the Royal New Zealand Navy and the New Zealand Defence Force,” Lieutenant General Keating said.

Brigadier Kelly said he was very honoured to be appointed as the next Chief of Army.

“When I joined the Army 30 years ago it was because I wanted to part of a team that aspired to be great, to lead soldiers and seek the adventure and challenge that the Army promised,” he said.

“I certainly found that and more, and I continue to be very passionate about our Army and Defence Force. Commanding and leading soldiers is an absolute privilege and should never be taken lightly.

“The mums, dads, husbands, wives and partners of our men and women who have been entrusted into our care, expect 100 per cent effort and commitment from myself and all the leaders within the army, when leading their loved ones.  That is a big responsibility and one that I take seriously.

“I have confidence in our people and our ability. We are a great little Army and are well led, well trained and well equipped component of the Defence Force,” Brigadier Kelly said.

Commodore Martin said it was an honour and privilege to be selected to lead the Navy.

“As a maritime nation we depend on seaborne trade and so we send our ships far and wide to conduct missions, from anti-piracy to fisheries protection.

“We do so in an environment uncompromising in its harshness, and it requires from us the highest levels of professionalism.

“Our sailors do a wonderful job and I look forward to working to ensure that they are part of a strong and capable unified Defence Force.

“The Navy also needs to get ready for the future because our operating environment is changing.

“Key to our future is the need to attract and train people from across our society, give them the ability to use equipment that is yet to be acquired, and empower them to defend New Zealand’s interests at sea,” Commodore Martin said.




CDRE John Martin currently leads capability development for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), helping to shape and design current and future capabilities across the NZDF to meet the needs of Government.

The role involves the leadership of the NZDF’s Capability Branch with a diverse workforce of 250 staff, and the maintenance of a close and unique relationship with the Ministry of Defence.

His previous was as commander the Royal New Zealand Navy Fleet as the Maritime Component Commander (March 2011 – Sep 2013).

He was responsible for readiness of the Fleet and specialist teams to deliver on the Navy’s mission, outputs and outcomes. This included capability generation, training, evaluation, and all operational activities that the fleet undertake. He was responsible to the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand for the command and conduct of maritime operations and provision of the naval contribution to NZDF outputs.

Born in Dunedin and educated in Wellington, CDRE Martin joined the Navy in 1979 as a radar plotter.

During his career he has served on a number of Navy ships fulfilling the functions of bridge watch keeper, maritime air traffic controller instructor, frigate navigator, warfare officer and commander. He has held a number of operational staff appointments and was involved in the preparation and deployment of naval units to the Arabian Gulf and Mururoa Atoll. At this time he was awarded the Member of New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM). More recently he has held a number of roles within the NZDF encompassing senior level management and command, leadership training and development, project management, operational planning and business development; and, capability development.

A career highlight was his time in command of HMNZS TE KAHA from 2001 until August 2003. The ship undertook a number of deployments to Australia, South East Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. Following a mission to the Gulf of Oman for Maritime Interception Operations, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).

He is a graduate and fellow of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (Canberra), and has a Master of Arts (Strategic Studies) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Administration.

He is married to Susan Martin and lives in Wellington. They have three adult sons. Commodore Martin enjoys fly fishing, walking and sailing.




BRIG Peter Kelly was born in Lower Hutt in July 1965 and received his secondary education at St Patrick’s College, Wellington, before enlisting into the New Zealand Army in January 1985.

In December 1985, he graduated into the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR), in the rank of Second Lieutenant. After graduation he was posted to 2nd 1st Battalion RNZIR where he was Platoon Commander and Company Second-in-Command.

BRIG Kelly was posted to the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Group in July 1990. Whilst serving with the NZSAS, he held the following appointments: Troop Commander, Operations Officer, Squadron Commander, Executive Officer and Commanding Officer (2004-06).

BRIG Kelly has also held the following staff appointments: Assistant Operations Headquarters Land Force Command, Staff Officer Special Operations Headquarters Joint Force New Zealand and at Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force, Deputy Director Land Capability, Director Special Operations, and Director Capability Working Groups.

He has seen operational service with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation in Israel, Lebanon and Syria as a Military Observer 1994-95.

He was the Squadron Commander of the NZSAS Squadron deployed to Kuwait in 1998 and to East Timor in 1999, and was the Commanding Officer of the NZSAS contingent deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005. He also represented the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) as the Military Attaché to the United States posted to Washington DC, over the period 2006-09.

He attended the Australian Defence Force Command and Staff Course in Canberra in 2001, and the Royal College of Defence Studies in London in 2011-12.

In September 2012, he was promoted to his current rank and appointed Deputy Chief of Army. In March 2014, he became the Land Component Commander at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand, and was Acting Chief of Army following the departure of the previous Chief of Army, Major General Dave Gawn to a role with the United Nations.

For his service in East Timor, BRIG Kelly was recognised in the 2001 New Year Honours list with the award as an Additional Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

He has a Masters of Arts in International Security and Strategy from Kings College London, a Masters of Management in Defence Studies from the University of Canberra, and a Bachelor of Administrative Leadership from the University of New England.

He is married to Kate and they have two adult children. His interests include reading, sport, and classic American cars from the late 60s.










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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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