NZ's Fiji Relief Operation ‘Largest Peacetime Deployment’

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

About 500 Defence Force personnel assisting with rebuilding

By Siteri Sauvakacolo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 3, 2016) –Now that the Fijian Government has a better picture of the scale of devastation, it is clear that more help is needed, the New Zealand Defence Force revealed.

Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, in a statement said his country's humanitarian aid for victims of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston was rated as one of its largest peacetime deployments to the Pacific.

To date, about 500 combat engineers, soldiers, sailors and aircrew have been deployed to assist affected Fijians rebuild their lives.

"Fiji is a close neighbour of New Zealand, and the NZDF stands ready to continue supporting the New Zealand Government's assistance to Fiji as it recovers from the cyclone," Maj-Gen Gall said.

"We are working alongside the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, the Australian Defence Force and the French military in getting aid supplies to affected people in these hard-to-reach areas.

"Less than 24-hours after the cyclone struck Fiji, an NZDF P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft conducted aerial surveys to provide Fijian officials with a clearer picture of the damage caused by the cyclone.

"We had people on the ground working with the Fijian authorities in assessing the extent of the devastation," he said.

The Royal New Zealand Navy's offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington is in the northern Lau Group to deliver about 60 tonnes of aid supplies and identify beaches that will be suitable for HMNZS Canterbury's landing craft operations.

The multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury is scheduled to arrive into Suva today with 293 military personnel, including army engineers and medical staff members, two NH90 multi-role helicopters, one Seasprite helicopter, vehicles and hundreds of tonnes of additional aid.

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