New Zealand personnel home from Iraq

  • Helen Clark
Prime Minister

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence are welcoming New Zealand’s Light Engineer Group home from Iraq tonight.

Helen Clark and Mark Burton will greet the 61 military engineers and support staff when they arrive at Ohakea Air Force base, following the second rotation of New Zealand’s 12-month humanitarian and reconstruction mission in Basra.

“This government said from the start that New Zealand would be prepared to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1483, our service personnel have been able to assist the people of Iraq in their efforts to rebuild their country," said Helen Clark.

“Working alongside British forces, New Zealand’s Light Engineer Group has contributed to over 40 projects to restore key infrastructure, including the repair and refurbishment of hospitals, health clinics, schools, police stations, law courts, and municipal and government buildings.

“Our personnel have also rebuilt bridges and water pipelines, worked to restore electric reticulation systems, and constructed supply reverse osmosis water plants that are bringing clean water to over 200,000 people for the first time in a generation.

Helen Clark and Mark Burton both expressed their pride in the work the engineering group had done under very difficult conditions.

“The New Zealand Defence Force has a worldwide reputation for excellence and a calm, co-operative style that has been enhanced by working alongside different forces in such diverse situations as Bosnia, Bougainville, Timor Leste, Solomon Islands, and Afghanistan," said Mr Burton.

“The work in Basra reinforced that reputation, and made a real contribution to the lives of the local people.”

Helen Clark said that no further deployments of this kind to Iraq were being considered, but that New Zealand would consider formal requests from the United Nations for assistance in its headquarters in Iraq.