Peter Cozens

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Not to be confused with Peter Cozzens

Peter Cozens was the Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies New Zealand from 2002 until 2009 when he retired. The Centre is part of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington. As Director, Cozens promoted and contributes to research and discussion of New Zealand's strategic security environment.


Cozens grew up and attended school in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] From 1964 to 1972 he served in the British India Steam Navigation Company.[citation needed] He saw service in the company's cadetship, general cargo ships, passenger and cruise liners and consequently visited many ports of call in the Indian Ocean and in Asia. From 1972 to 1993 he served in the Royal New Zealand Navy and saw service in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, retiring at the rank of Commander.[citation needed] He studied at the Royal Australian Naval Staff College and Victoria University where he researched Asian culture and civilisation, graduating with a Master of Arts.[citation needed]

In 1995 he was appointed as Administrator (or in some references Operations Manager) at the Centre for Strategic Studies under original Director Terence O'Brien.[citation needed] Following the departure of David Dickens in 2002, Cozens was promoted to Director. He also served as Executive Director of the New Zealand Membership Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP).

Current activities[edit]

He is an advocate for non-official or track two diplomacy. In a submission to the New Zealand government's 'Seriously Asia' conference in 2003, he expressed concerns about the country's commitment to understanding Asia. In particular, he lamented the lack of resources allocated to the work of think-tanks and track two organizations. Cozens has been quoted as saying the New Zealand Defence Force also needs to increase its expertise, in particular that there is a "need to lift the academic ability of our officer cadre: this is well overdue for real professional development."[1]

As former Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies, Cozens' duties include directing research, giving speeches, providing media commentary and contributing to the School of Government's Masters of Strategic Studies degree. He managed several full-time staff members, and also oversees a number of the Centre's Senior Fellows, including former director Terence O'Brien, University of Auckland academic Stephen Hoadley, and Lance Beath. Cozens has also increasingly found himself raising money to support the Centre's activities.

He is also a Fellow of the Asia/Pacific Research Institute of New Zealand and serves on the Editorial Board of the Sea Power Centre - Australia working paper series.

Views on security issues[edit]

Cozens has outlined his own views on strategic policy and security issues in numerous papers and books on terrorism, security and maritime cooperation in the Pacific-Asian region. In a 2005 newspaper interview, he called for a "softly softly, catchy monkey" approach to counter-terrorism, saying it would "reward authorities more than a 'reds under the bed', or 'terrorist under the bed' approach."[2] In response to an Australian report that warned about future resource competition in the Antarctic, Cozens said the New Zealand Government "should think in terms of increasing New Zealand's military presence" near the south pole.[3] The idea was not welcomed by the New Zealand Defence Force. In an article in the Australian journal 'Security Challenges' he argued that the New Zealand Defence Force should be renamed the "Armed Services of New Zealand" to reflect the fact that it increasingly performs a range of non-traditional functions.[4]

Cozens' views have not found universal support. A letter to The Listener magazine in May 2006 described him as an "ex-navy wallah" who needs his "head read".[5]

Health issues[edit]

In early 2007 Peter Cozens was taken to hospital for stress related heart problems related to overwork. He recovered well. In 2009, he retired.


  1. ^ Denis Welch, "The disarming of New Zealand", The Listener, 29 April 2006
  2. ^ "Civil rights at risk in terror backlash," The New Zealand Herald, 29 September 2005
  3. ^ Michael Field and David Dickens, "Fears of Cold War in the Antarctic" The Dominion-Post, 7 April 2007
  4. ^ Peter Cozens, "Some reflections on the notion of defence and the use of armed force: a perspective from New Zealand", Security Challenges, vol.2, no. 3
  5. ^ "Letters, The Listener, 13–19 May 2006

External links[edit]