New Zealand Army Engineers are in Fiji working on the rebuild of Lekutu Secondary School with a multinational Combat Engineering Team led by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The school buildings were damaged during Cyclone Yasa in 2020 and alongside their Australian, Fijian and French Army of New Caledonia counterparts, the Kiwis are working to build two structures with solar panels and a total of six classrooms for the local community.
Second Lieutenant Bradley Taniora-Brockelsby said the participation in the ADF’s Operation Assist has been a good learning opportunity for the New Zealanders.
“We’re being reintroduced to working in a joint environment after a quiet period during the pandemic, while also supporting one of our closest neighbours in their longer term recovery efforts after Cyclone Yasa,” he said.
The multinational teams have shared events including Anzac Day and have been learning new phrases to bridge the gap between languages and cultures.
Second Lieutenant Taniora-Brockelsby said the Kiwis were thoroughly enjoying the experience.
“We’ve been getting to work closely alongside the local community including the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, school staff and members of the Lekutu village. They’ve been incredibly enthusiastic to share their beautiful country, tell us the best fishing spots and give us free lessons on the rugby field.”