Today's post is about the former New Zealand Government "Unidentified Flying Object Investigating Committee" a body of which I had no prior knowledge.
One of the recently released NZ Government files is AIR 244/10/1 Volume 1, titled "Reports on UFOs" with a date range of 1959-1982.
Who was on the Committee?
The first document I found which mentioned this Committee was a Minute dated 16 Dec 1969 with a file reference of 66/30/17 DSI. It was from " Squadron Leader A Dyer, IPO(Air) Directorate of Service Intelligence" and addressed to member of the Committee. In part it read "...On 10 April 1968 a meeting of representatives from interested agencies ...was held to discuss the action to be taken on receipt of UFO sighting reports..." and called for a further meeting to be arranged.
The other Committee members listed were:
Dr E I Robertson, DSIR
Mr W J H Fisher, Carter Observatory
Squadron Leader A N Nilestone, D.DATC Ops
Dr D E Thompson, NZ Meteorology Service
Squadron Leader Irvine, D Ops
The Committee meets:
The next Minute of interest was one dated 20 June 1972 to which was attached a record of the Committee meeting of 29 January 1970. The attendee list is of interest, please note the Directorate of Service Intelligence was present. Members were:
Wing Commander R R Black, Directorate of Service Intelligence
Dr E I Robertson, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research
Dr D C Thompson, NZ Meteorology Service
Mr W J H Fisher, Carter Observatory
Sqd Leader A N Nilestone, D.DATC OPs, Ministry of Transport
Flt Lt C Mitchell, Directorate of Operations, RNZAF HQ
Flt Lt C Cole, RNZAF Public Relations Officer
Sqd Leader A Dyer, Directorate of Service Intelligence, Ministry of Defence.
The subject of discussions was the "...action to be taken upon receipt of U.F.O. sighting reports..."
A Ministry of Defence Minute dated 20 June 1972 with a reference 66/20/1 DSI states:
"The fact that an intelligence agency is involved would, to my mind, give the subject of UFOs and aura which it does not deserve. DSI became involved in UFOs as a result of integration. Originally the subject was handled by DAI (on the security side) on behalf of the Air Staff...I believe we have little interest in the subject...I understand that the Air Staff already keep their own files on the subject...If necessary S10 JIB could become a member of the Committee in order that the intelligence community could maintain a watching brief..."
A memo dated 27 June 1972 Reference 66/20/1 DSI from Lt Col DSI to ACDS(Pol) read in part:
"Our involvement is by inheritance from the Directorate of Air Intelligence who presumably were given it primarily as a security chore in the days when the Air Department controlled Civil Aviation...and went onto say "Any intelligence interest in UFOs is of a scientific and technical rather than a service nature...the committee is not an active one. It last met in January 1970..."
Department of Defence washes its hands:
In a Secretary of Defence, Memo dated 8 August 1972 Reference 66/20/1 which went to the DSIR, Transport, Carter Observatory cc to the Commissioner of Police, there is:
"For a number of years the Ministry of defence has been associated with this Committee in a leading role...the overall subject does appear to be primarily a matter of scientific interest rather than Defence..." The DOD sought to pass the UFO subject on to the DSIR or the Department of Transport. The memo closed with "In any reconstituted body which examines sighting reports of UFOs Defence representation would be restricted to Mr G M Seere, the Scientific Intelligence Officer at the Joint Intelligence Bureau."
Finally, in 1976 on file AIR 244/10/1 in a Memo dated 4 Nov 1976 attempts were made to finalise the matter.
The Secretary of Defence, reference Def 66/20/1 DDI, wrote: "I agree there seems no need to have a committee to investigate reported sightings of UFOs...As we have no interest other than to ensure that a reported sighting is checked as far as practicable by Air Traffic Control to eliminate the possibility of an unknown intruder, and in view of the lack of interest by other Government agencies, our further action will be limited to station log entries of the report."
So, it seems the New Zealand UFO Investigating Committee" met its end.
As you know, I maintain a keen interest in intelligence agencies and UFOs. It was therefore, of particular interest to read this portion of this file and see that at the bottom of those interested in NZ UFOs was the NZ Department of Defence's own intelligence staff. As you can see from the notes above, they were not interested in the scientific side of the UFO phenomenon, just the defence implications, and in 1972 were trying to move away from their involvement to place the subject with either the DSIR or the Dept of Transport. However, despite all that they said they wanted to have the Scientific Intelligence Officer, of the Department of Defence Joint Intelligence Bureau maintain a "watching brief."
If you have read any of the material located by the Disclosure Australia Project (see http://disclosureaustralia.freewebpages.org ) you will find that the Australian Department of Defence JIB, in 1972, was also looking to devolve its UFO responsibilities. Given this timing, same year, it would seem that the DOD Intelligence agencies in Australia and New Zealand were talking to each other about the subject of UFOs.