Camp Taji defence personnel to reunite with their families

New Zealand Defence Force personnel who have been in isolation since returning to New Zealand from Iraq last month, will be reunited with their families starting from today, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark.  

Two groups, who had been part of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission in Iraq with the Australian Defence Force, arrived back in New Zealand recently, where they went immediately into self-isolation at a facility within Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland at Whenuapai, in line with Covid-19 requirements. 

“A C-130 Hercules is due to depart from Whenuapai today with twenty eight personnel from the BPC mission and six personnel from other operations. These women and men have not seen their families in over five months, and will now take leave to relax with their loved ones,” said Mr Mark. 

Members of the second group will remain in isolation at the air base for another week before they can move out of self-isolation and join their families. 

Over the past five years, around 900 defence force personnel have deployed to the Building Partner Capacity mission based at Taji, Iraq. Collectively, more than 47,000 Iraqi Security Force personnel have been trained by NZDF personnel.

 “These women and men who serve our country do so with dedication, professionalism, and heart – the Coalition Government it is very grateful and proud of all of them,” said Mr Mark.

 “I’d like to acknowledge their families. They too, in supporting their loved ones deployment overseas, have made huge sacrifices. I know holding the fort back home, often alone, is no easy task, and many families continue to do so for those who are deployed overseas today on a range of different missions.

 “The women and men in our Defence Force, are our greatest asset, and have consistently been there to support our Community, our Nation and our neighbours, when it mattered most. For that we are most grateful. Welcome home, stay safe and enjoy the time with your loved ones,” said Mr Mark.