The Defence Force will pay all its civilian staff the living wage by 2019.

A paper released by Defence Minister Ron Mark's office said there were 162 civilian staff paid below the living wage rate, including mechanics, telephonists, librarians and security guards.

The Defence Force has made a commitment to pay all its civilian staff at least the living wage rate of $20.55 an hour by 2019.

A remuneration package this year reduced the number of people under that rate from 225 to 162, most of them on an annual salary that was less than $1000 under the living wage rate.

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"The NZDF has noted the recent Cabinet Government Administration and Expenditure Review Committee decision to direct the core public service to move employees to $20.55 per hour by 1 September 2018. While this does not directly apply to the NZDF, we have committed to moving all civilian employees and military personnel to the living wage during 2019," Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said in a briefing to Mark.

Mark told Parliament the New Zealand Defence Force was a major employer of New Zealanders, both civilian and military, in our regions and in our cities.

"All regular force members who have completed basic training are already paid above the living wage. Recruits undergoing training will remain at a level below the living wage, but will receive and continue to receive free accommodation. I'm also happy to report today that the New Zealand Defence Force intend bringing all reservists up to at least the living wage," he said.