Big start to the year for the Defence Force

Cyclones, earthquakes, search and rescue, fisheries and environmental protection have all featured heavily in the New Zealand Defence Force’s workload for the first quarter of 2018.

“The Defence Force have been kept busy for the first quarter of the year, and they’ve performed with distinction,” says Minister of Defence Ron Mark.

“Since I took up the role of Minister of Defence I’ve been impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the people in the Defence Force and I’d like to extend a sincere thank you for their ongoing work.

“Stand out operations include the deployment to Tonga following Cyclone Gita, where NZDF worked hard to get relief supplies to those affected.  This coupled with their work in Papua New Guinea has shown the exceptional utility the Defence Force provides Government.

“Their work in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean this summer has been outstanding and is the cornerstone of New Zealand’s efforts to protect the pristine environment and fish stocks against illegal and unregulated fishing. The Antarctic is the Defence Force’s largest operation and they turn out year after year to provide the platform for vital scientific research.

“Likewise, their outstanding work supporting conservation and environmental efforts in the Southern Ocean down to the Antipodes and up into the Pacific in Raoul Island, where they is providing immense value,” says Ron Mark.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage travelled aboard HMNZS Wellington recently to the Antipodes and was equally impressed with what she saw. “The work the Navy did to support the Department of Conservation’s work in the monitoring stage of the five year Million Dollar Mouse project was invaluable,” she said.

“As part of Operation Endurance, the Navy transported people, conservation dogs and equipment to Antipodes Island in the remote Sub Antarctic. Last week the island was officially declared mouse free.  

“For phase two and three of Operation Endurance, to the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island, the Navy helped support the Department’s work maintaining historic sites as well as assisting with the pick-up of researchers undertaking studies on the resident sea lion populations,” says Eugenie Sage.

Closer to home the Defence Force have been doing great work in communities.  “The recent dental training exercise in the Bay of Plenty region is a great example of the work Defence is doing in this area,” says Ron Mark.

“Five Hundred and fifty patients were seen as part of the exercise.  Most of those people would not regularly see a dentist.

“Another thing I’ve been impressed with is the empathy and sensitivity to  cultural, religious and socio economic circumstances the Defence Force display on all operations. Something which appears to be a particular strength to New Zealand.

“On my recent trip to Iraq I was told many times by local dignitaries that they appreciate the way our people have respect for local customs and how humble they are.

“New Zealanders can be very proud of their Defence Forces, the work they do, and how they represent the nation on operations and exercises both at home and abroad,” says Ron Mark.

Some of the work the NZDF has completed this year:

  • Delivered 60 tonnes of aid to Tonga in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita
  • Flown 18 tonnes of aid flown to Papua New Guinea following the earthquake on 25 February
  • Flown 5 search and rescue missions
  • Sailed 3550 Nautical Miles south of Stewart Island
  • Flown four flights to Antarctica in the first quarter of the year, and nine over the entire 2017/18 summer season
  • Deployed around 110 personnel to the ice during the summer season providing operational and logistics support to Antarctica New Zealand operation
  • Deployed to a wide range of operations around the world in support of peace and security; from Africa, to the Middle East and Asia.