Reserve MTO Officers fuse maritime trade related information and experience with expert analysis and assessment in order to support the decision making processes of Naval Command.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
    Naval Reserve
  • Location
    ​Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin
  • Starting Salary
    $179.44 Daily Rate
  • Upcoming Intake
    17 February, 2022

About the role

Maritime Trade Operations (MTO) is an element of the Defence Force’s Information Warfare Domain.  The capability is a key enabler, delivering awareness of maritime economic activity including merchant shipping, cargo, fishing, energy and port infrastructure.  

MTO personnel are the RNZN’s subject matter experts and provide the interface between the maritime industries and the NZDF ashore and afloat in support of routine constabulary tasks, Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) and warfighting operations.

MTO Officers:

  • contribute to the “common operating picture”
  • brief merchant vessel masters  alongside in port and underway at sea on known security threats and military operations that may impact on their passage 
  • debrief masters to collect information that will enhance understanding of the threat environment, and 
  • provide advice to military commanders on the maritime industries and the impact of military operations on commercial activities. 

MTO Officers may be employed at sea or ashore in New Zealand or overseas supporting NZ Defence Force operations and activities.

People from the shipping / maritime / logistics industry

MTO has traditionally been an interface between the RNZN and the merchant marine and maritime industry. That is the genesis of MTO, and that is still where MTO can continue to add significant value to the RNZN. For example, MTO personnel in New Zealand and overseas have in the past;

  • provided the Navy with specific information on vessels and their potential use for Defence purposes,
  • arranged for vessels to be boarded at sea as part of NZDF exercises in preparation for deployments to the Persian Gulf,
  • obtained useful information from ships' masters about piracy practices and the methods used to thwart attacks on merchant vessels.

In order to continue to provide practical and useful information and advice, MTO is looking to recruit people with experience in shipping and the maritime industry. By way of example, professions and trades of interest to MTO include;

  • master mariners (from both the coastal and international trades) who are either still working at sea or who have decided to come ashore
  • professional skippers (for example, from offshore fishing vessels or supply vessels)
  • harbour pilots
  • tug masters
  • employees of one of New Zealand’s port companies
  • shipping agents
  • shipping company employees
  • marine surveyors, marine insurers
  • lecturers / tutors at maritime colleges
  • people involved in logistics, particularly maritime logistics (e.g. freight forwarders), road and rail logistics, provedores and stevedores
  • other people linked to / associated with the maritime / shipping / offshore fishing industry

People with prior experience in the defence force

MTO is particularly interested in people from a military, and particularly a Naval background. The Royal New Zealand Navy are currently seeking personnel with experience and qualifications in the following areas;

  • VRX
  • Communications
  • Electronic Warfare
  • Intelligence
  • Supplychain and logistics

Government agency experience

The New Zealand Government has made it clear that it expects all government departments and agencies to work together to achieve the Government’s goals. Examples of this “whole of government” approach include the Navy making available its patrol craft to assist Customs, Fisheries and Conservation Officers with their missions policing the sea coast and offshore islands, and the National Maritime Coordination Centre, where Defence personnel work with Police, Customs and other agencies.

In the context of MTO, we are also particualrly interested in individuals who work in or have experience working with the agencies that are responsible for border control and the coastal environment. In particualr we are seeking individuals who have experience across:

  • NZ Customs Service
  • NZ Police
  • Maritime NZ
  • Ministry of Primary Industries

People with analytical skills

A recent development is the growth of MTO as a resource for the Navy and for the NZDF, developing information resources from open source material on New Zealand’s trade routes and on markets for New Zealand goods and services, and on markets from which New Zealand derives imports, particularly in the South Pacific.

These documents – Information Briefing Memoranda (IBMs) are entirely unclassified resources. The advantage of the MTO products is that they are a resource that the RNZN and NZDF can freely distribute – either to NZDF personnel who may be deployed to one or other of the South Pacific Islands – or to partner navies.

To prepare these IBMs we need people who have an interest in the world, are skilled in undertaking research, can quickly read through large volumes of information and identify relevant material, organise information in a logical way, and write up high quality commentary.

People who are academically inclined and prepared to do research and analysis and writing, and who can communicate well, are of value to MTO.

People with IT, geospatial intelligence and project management experience

MTO needs to have a strong IT capability which can enable it to;

  • Set up IT networks
  • Undertake data mining / analysis
  • Manage software tools and extract maximum benefit from them

The need to have access to skills required to get the best use out of software tools, set up networks, analyse data and attend to IT issues generally, requires that MTO have personnel with excellent IT skills.

By way of example, MTO Reservists have been used to assist with;

Development of a Common Operating Picture (COP) using ARC GIS software

During the international Exercise Bell Buoy 13, MTO used a non Defence system to generate a COP because the wide range of participating nations meant that it was not appropriate to use restricted NZDF systems. MTO therefore used an ARC GIS system with assistance from a software company – and incorporated a live Automated Information System (AIS) feed showing movement of all commercial shipping and aircraft in real time.

Further development of an MTO deployable information technology capability

MTO has 10 deployable kits with Unclassified laptops, printers, 22inch external screens, wireless routers and GPS units and accompanying cables and accessories in large waterproof Pelican containers. These deployment kits provide MTO with the capability to travel anywhere and set up one or more mobile Shipping Coordination Points.

Maximizing the value from miscellaneous software

MTO personnel have been trained in the use of a software tool that can generate documentation for use in amphibious operations. The type of people we need to maximize the benefit of the software are those with an IT or mathematical / statistical background

MTO personnel need to have the ability to use a wide range of software products including Automated Data Processing software such as Namesis, the full range of Microsoft products and SharePoint, and other platforms such as APAN in order to manage MTO organisation and outputs. 

navy landscape 4
navy square 3

Career progression and training

Training Overview

Time Commitment

Basic Training - JOCT

Job Training - MTO

Career Progression

Initial training consists of three stages which equate to approximately 4 weeks of block training, alongside a blend of one weekend per month, and one night's training per week.

Basic Training - Junior Officer Common Training: During your first 11 months in the Navy, you will be taught core military, mariner and leadership skills in order to be an effective officer in the Navy.  This initial training is known as Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) and begins with nine days at Devonport Naval Base and the Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparaoa.

Job TrainingFollowing completion of JOCT, you will begin your branch training.  MTO training is conducted through a combination of self-study, online learning, formal courses run by the Maritime Trade Training School (MTTS), and practical experience in your home unit and on exercises.

On-going career progressionYour hard work, experience and training accomplishments as an MTO Officer are rewarded by promotions in rank and salary.

Course dates will be advised by your Candidate Engagement Facilitator as part of your recruitment journey. 


Reservists who have not previously served in the Regular Force (ab initio Reservists) commit to a minimum cumulative total of 20 days’ service each year for professional development and operational delivery.  This is made up of a minimum of 14 days of full-time training, exercises, operational activity and/or supplementation to the Regular Force plus weeknight and weekend training.  An additional 20 days is available for supplementary activities that benefit both individual Reservists and the NZDF. 

Weekend training may also include Friday evenings.  Longer exercises are conducted over periods ranging from four to 14 days.  Naval Reservists receive a daily rate of pay, commensurate with their rank and experience, and this encompasses travel time required to attend training.  

Much of the MTO professional training is designed to be flexible, enabling you to choose when you train – meaning you can tailor your service to fit around work and family commitments.  Provision also exists for periods of leave of absence from training commitments.  

Ex Regular Force personnel may also elect to qualify as MTO Officers and, on attainment of the necessary qualifications, transfer to the MTO Branch.


During your first 11 months in the Navy, you will be taught core military, mariner and leadership skills in order to be an effective officer in the Navy.  This initial training is known as Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) and begins with nine days at Devonport Naval Base and the Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparaoa.  JOCT continues once you return to your home unit, with weekend training once a month, one evening of training each week, and self-study.  You will also complete another week of full-time training in August and again in November, focusing on leadership skills.  

Reserve officers receive the same initial training as their Regular Force counterparts.  This includes parade training (drill), an introduction to the laws of armed conflict, first aid, naval customs and ceremonies, communications, an introduction to damage control, and small arms.

Upon the successful completion of JOCT, you will be promoted from Midshipman to Ensign and begin your MTO branch training.

Following completion of JOCT, you will begin your branch training.  MTO training is conducted through a combination of self-study, online learning, formal courses run by the Maritime Trade Training School (MTTS), and practical experience in your home unit and on exercises.

Your professional training starts with an introduction to merchant shipping, the maritime industry and trade, merchant vessel navigation and tracking.  You will then attend the one-week “Sub-Lieutenant (SLT) MTO Professional” course held at Devonport Naval Base or at one of the Reserve units.  Following the course, you will complete a “task book” to assess your retained knowledge and competence in the required practical skills.  Once you have completed the SLT MTO Professional course and the task book, you will be professionally qualified for promotion to Sub-Lieutenant.

As you progress towards the next rank of Lieutenant, you will undertake the comprehensive “Lieutenant (LT) MTO Professional” course that builds on your previous qualification and gives you the practical skills necessary to manage a shipping coordination team.  This includes acting as a briefing officer with ships’ masters and with the wider maritime industry at an operational level.  You will again complete a task book to assess your retained knowledge and competence in the required practical skills.

Promotion to Lieutenant Commander requires further specialist training.  At this point of your career, you may be selected to attend advanced courses at HMS Collingwood in the United Kingdom.

Your hard work, experience and training accomplishments as an MTO Officer are rewarded by promotions in rank and salary.

It is a requirement for all promotions that you be medically and physically fit.  You will also need to have completed the required professional courses and have your Commanding Officer’s recommendation for promotion to Ensign, Sub-Lieutenant, Lieutenant.

Once you have obtained two years of seniority as an Ensign you will be eligible for promotion to Sub-Lieutenant.  Your next promotion to Lieutenant requires three years of seniority as a Sub-Lieutenant and the completion of three courses alongside your Regular Force counterparts: the Lead Leaders course (five days), the Divisional Management Course (two weeks), and the Incident Managers Damage Control course (five days).  You can choose to intersperse these courses between your MTO professional training or to undertake them after you have completed your professional training.

Promotion to Lieutenant Commander and above is based on merit.  Promotion to Lieutenant Commander requires the completion of the Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Joint) or an equivalent international course.  Promotion to Lieutenant Commander and Commander is also subject to minimum lengths of service and seniority in rank.

MTO Officers of all ranks are eligible to be posted in support of MTO and other NZDF exercises and operations in New Zealand and overseas.

navy full width 7


As a Reservist you are paid on an hourly rate rather than a salary. Pay rates depend on the role you are in and your rank; your pay will increase as move through the ranks.

As an Officer in the Naval Reserve, the minimum renumeration you will be paid from day one is a daily rate of $179.44 including Kiwisaver and holiday pay. Your remuneration will increase on completion of Junior Officer Common Training (Reserves).



Daily Rate - Under Training (MID)


Daily Rate - Upon Completion of JOCT(R) (ENS)

Entry requirements



Fitness and Medical


  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years.
  • Must pass the Navy Swim Test, conducted wearing overalls and gym shoes:
    • Swim of 50 metres and, on completion,
    • Remain afloat unaided by treading water for three minutes

You must have a minimum NCEA Level 3, and/or a recognised qualification of equivalent standard or five years of relevant operational management experience (at sea or ashore).


A Relevant Degree and three years of practical industry experience across (but not limited to):

  • Aviation Management, 
  • Business Management,
  • Computer and Data Sciences,
  • Engineering, 
  • Geography, 
  • Human Factors, 
  • Information Technology,
  • Languages,
  • Law,
  • Nautical Science,
  • Operations, 
  • Political Science,
  • Psychology, 
  • Safety Science,
  • Supply Chain Management, and
  • Transport and Logistics.

If you have experience or a degree in an area that is not listed, but you think it might be relevant to MTO, then we encourage you to get in touch.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required SV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

navy generic base for roles

Ready to start your Navy career?

Other jobs you might like

You can also browse jobs by specialisation to narrow down your search, or find your ideal fit with the Passion Finder tool.

Back to top