25 March 2010
Forty four New Zealand Defence Force personnel arrive home today after a four month deployment supporting the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
They will be greeted at Christchurch International Airport by the Vice Chief of Defence Force Rear Admiral Jack Steer, Director Army Reserve Brigadier Anthony Howie, and Canterbury District President of the RSA Mr Pat Duggin.
The contingent, made up mostly of 4th Otago Southland and 2nd Canterbury Nelson Marlborough West Coast Territorial Force (TF) Battalions, was the eleventh rotation to support RAMSI.
The Kiwis have worked alongside Australian, Tongan and Papua New Guinean military personnel and police during their time in the Islands to maintain security and stability in the region.
A new rotation programme commences with the return of the latest NZDF contingent. A smaller contingent of eight NZDF personnel, who are filling Staff Officer roles in the RAMSI Headquarters, will remain in place while an Australian Defence Force (ADF) platoon will deploy for the next eight months. The next platoon sized NZDF contingent will deploy in November 2010 to relieve the ADF contingent.
Operations such as RAMSI offer TF members the opportunity to take on the challenges that are experienced by the Regular Force and the civilian skills members bring are often invaluable when working with the local population.
The main body will return to Christchurch International Airport on Thursday 25 March. Media are invited to attend.
When: 6.40pm, Thursday 25 March 2010 (note – this arrival time may change, you must register your attendance to be informed of changes).
Where:Christchurch International Airport
What: Arrival of NZDF personnel from a four month deployment in the Solomon Islands.
Media wishing to attend the arrival must register with Nicole Munro-Johnson, 021 569 148 by 1pm on Thursday 25 March to ensure access is available. Photo identification will be required on the day.
The Territorial Force makes up a quarter of NZ Army’s personnel, and are a vital part of operations abroad. Territorial soldiers and officers have been active on New Zealand peacekeeping missions to Lebanon, Sinai, East Timor, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Bougainville, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Solomon Islands.
Background - Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands:
RAMSI is a partnership between the government of the Solomon Islands and contributing pacific nations, including New Zealand and Australia. It aims to ensure security and assists the Solomon Island’s people and government to develop the skills and institutions for successful self governance.
New Zealand has supported the RAMSI mission since July 2003 at the request of the Solomon Island’s government. The NZDF will maintain a presence in the Solomon Islands until a yet to be determined date.
The mission in the Solomon Islands requires strong infantry skills and an ability to get on well with the local people. New Zealand troops regularly liaise with locals, conduct patrols, provide assistance to police and help with external security at Rove Prison.