Our History

The Defence Technology Agency (DTA) has been operating for over 70 years.

Established in 1950, our organisation was called the Underwater Research Laboratory and was part of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). The Laboratory’s research was done mainly for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and focused on underwater acoustics.
Read about New Zealand’s Naval History.

In 1955, our research focus broadened to include maritime research and was transferred to the Naval Research Laboratory within the RNZN.

In 1970, following the integration of defence agencies, the organisation was renamed the Defence Scientific Establishment. While underwater acoustics continued to be the main area of study, the range of projects widened, and staff took part in co-operative research programmes with overseas defence scientists.

The organisation became the Defence Operational Technology Support Establishment in 1997. This signalled a new focus - using science and technology research to support defence operations.

During the 1990s, work on underwater acoustics reduced, and the research and development focus broadened to cover a wider range of areas including electronic warfare, propulsion engineering, mine counter measures and aircraft structures.

In 2001, we became what we are today – the Defence Technology Agency.