The NZDF said the impact of climate change in the neighbouring Pacific islands promised to be so extreme that providing humanitarian assistance could limit its ability to perform its traditional defence roles.
"With the intensifying impacts of climate change... New Zealand may be faced with concurrent operational commitments, which could stretch resources and reduce readiness for other requirements," it said in a report examining climate's impact on the military.
The report said problems in the Pacific would only worsen, bringing the potential for food and water shortages, land disputes arising from climate migration and more violent storm disasters.
"When the effects of climate change intersect with a complex array of environmental and social issues, they can be a significant contributor to both low-level and more violent conflict," it said.
"More and more, their battles seem to be about fighting the aftermath of extreme weather events, which fewer and fewer people these days are trying to argue are not part of the impact of climate change," he said.
The NZDF report did not mention China directly but warned "some states could look to use assistance in climate change disaster adaptation... as a way to increase influence".
It said the NZDF's operations in the Pacific arising from climate change could enhance New Zealand's reputation in the region.
"Working with Pacific island countries on climate change, including in the security sphere, is an opportunity to learn lessons from each other while further strengthening strategic partnerships," it said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)