- Over the past 14 months, New Zealand's UFO Research Network,
UFOCUS NZ, has communicated directly with Lt Gen Jerry Mataparae, Chief
of Defence Force NZ, on the issue of the release of MOD classified UFO
sighting reports and related documents.
- UFOCUS NZ Director, Suzanne Hansen, says that initially,
the Chief of Defence stated, "It would require a substantial amount
of collation, research and consultation to identify whether any of that
information could be released," and that he was not in a position
to deploy staff to undertake that task, given other work priorities.
- However, the Chief of Defence also voiced his personal
perspective on the issue, "In the longer term, recognizing the
ongoing public interest in this topic, I would like to see a summary of
information held about UFO sightings produced, in much the same way as
that which is produced by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. Given
the existing constraints, however, I cannot predict when that objective
could be achieved."
- Then in December 2009, following ongoing communications,
the Chief of Defence stated in a letter to UFOCUS NZ, "I am pleased
to be able to inform you that two NZDF officers have begun the task of
assessing classified files held in relation to this topic with a view to
declassification. I would expect that files which are transferred
to Archives New Zealand would be subject to extensive embargo periods in
terms of access by the general public."
- A Chief of Defence Force office spokesperson advised,
"The declassification of the UFO files is now a 'work in progress'
in conjunction with Archives New Zealand. The files must be amended
to meet new requirements of the Privacy Act. "
- The Defence Force will notify UFOCUS NZ when this
process is completed later this year, and the research network will be
given the opportunity of access to the files.
- Hansen states UFOCUS NZ's own archives contain credible
and detailed UFO sighting reports from New Zealand pilots, air traffic
controllers, and military personnel. In addition, the research
network holds sighting reports from members of the public who experienced
significant UFO sightings dating as far back as 1908. Some of
these prominent cases were investigated by NZ Air Force personnel, and
she is hopeful the MOD files may contain their reports.
- It is likely the files will also contain additional information
about the renowned 'Kaikoura lights' sightings which made world headlines
in 1978/79. UFOCUS NZ staff member and former Chief air traffic
controller of Wellington International Airport, John Cordy, witnessed the
Kaikoura lights on airport control centre radar, and states, "I hope
the files will validate the reality of the sightings, and vindicate key
witnesses who observed them, and faced 'trial by media'."
- Hansen says UFO sightings are on the increase in New
Zealand, with patterns and characteristics that parallel reported UFO sightings
and 'flaps' occurring worldwide, and that an increase in sightings reported
to UFOCUS NZ is a direct result of heightened public awareness and growing
interest in the subject in New Zealand.
- Suzanne Hansen
- UFO Focus New Zealand Research Network (UFOCUS NZ)