Saturday, June 15, 2024

NZDF building Pacific relationships

A New Zealand Army engineering team is in Niue carrying out construction tasks for the nation’s sole high school as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight.

Funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Exercise Tropic Twilight usually takes place annually in the South Pacific, however it was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 30-person team from 2nd Engineer Regiment is upgrading the Niue High School ablution blocks and replacing electrical points, lights and the switchboard in the school science lab.

NZDF personnel demolishing the ablution facilities at Niue High School as part of Operation Tropic Twilight.

The Royal New Zealand Navy is also represented in Niue, with 10 personnel from the dive unit, HMNZS Matataua, conducting hydrographic surveys of the wharf and channel to ensure that up-to-date information about access to the island is available in the event of a disaster. 

Sapper James Guild-Inder, foreground, and Sapper Gage Fowler start work on refurbishing work in the school’s science lab.

Both teams are being accompanied by two New Zealand Army medics.

Land Component Commander, Brigadier Hugh McAslan, said the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) welcomed returning to working in the South Pacific in this way.

“Being able to support our Pacific neighbours in such a hands-on capacity is something that we’ve missed during the past couple of years. We’re committed to providing assistance where it’s required throughout the South West Pacific, and we’re pleased to be back on the ground,” he said.

Able Hydrographic Survey Officer Nicoli Demafilez (on the theodolite) and AHSO Innes Bingham carry out survey work.

Brigadier McAslan said the Navy and Army personnel have been in Niue at the same time as the New Zealand COVID-19 response team.

“We work with sovereign Pacific nations to understand what it is they require, how we can support them, and offer our assets and skilled personnel to assist where we can. It’s a team effort in Niue at the moment, and we’re more than happy to help,” Brigadier McAslan said.

The NZDF contingent for Exercise Tropic Twilight will be in Niue until early August.

Sapper Lachlan McGrail demolishing the ablution facilities ahead of their refurbishment.

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