New Zealand Defence Force Prepares for Pacific Mission, Press Release: New Zealand Defence Force
A contingent of New Zealand Defence Force (NZ Defence Force) personnel will head for the Pacific early next week onboard the HMNZS CANTERBURY, as the US-led exercise Pacific Partnership gets underway.
Pacific Partnership is a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) exercise, aimed at increasing interoperability between the US, NZ, Australian and French forces involved while carrying out civil aid taskings in Tonga, Vanuatu, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The NZ Defence Force has committed the HMNZS CANTERBURY, her crew and up to 150 personnel; made up of medical experts and engineers/builders to the Niuatoputapu (Tonga) and Espiritu Santo (Vanuatu) phases of the exercise. They will be working alongside the USS CLEVELAND, the US Coast Guard, two Australian Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) vessels, and a French PUMA helicopter and crew that will be embarked on CANTERBURY.
Commander Joint Forces NZ, Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell, says the NZ Defence Force's involvement in this exercise is crucial to maintaining an effective HADR capability.
“It is exercises such as Pacific Partnership that ensure the NZ Defence Force is prepared to respond to natural disasters when we are called upon. These skills aren’t just required in our Pacific neighbourhood, but also in our own country, as we’ve sadly experienced in Christchurch both in September last year and February this year.”
Niuatoputapu was devastated in the 2009 tsunami. The NZ Defence Force and NZ Government responded in the initial emergency, and are returning there to continue in the rebuilding. NZ Defence Force personnel will carry out clinical, dental and environmental health tasks and education, as well as installing water tanks, refurbishing schools and clinics and helping to clear tsunami debris.
In Espiritu Santo, NZ Defence Force personnel will undertake general surgical procedures, help with water harvesting projects and provide refurbishment assistance to schools.