NZ Army Sapper Kupu Lloyd of 2 Engineer Regiment chainsaws fallen debris during road clearance operations near Port Kwemi, Epi Island
2 April 2015
Repairing buildings, clearing roads, delivering food and purifying water supplies has kept New Zealand Defence Force personnel busy on Epi Island in Vanuatu this week.
More than 200 NZDF staff remain in Vanuatu, including HMNZS CANTERBURY and her crew, engineers and health services personnel, and most will be working through Easter.
The largest total concentration yet of NZDF and other Kiwi aid workers went ashore at Port Kwemi in a series of landing craft trips from HMNZS CANTERBURY on Wednesday.
Engineers repairing the Vaemali Medical Centre and Epi High School at Lamen Bay were also resupplied, and at Port Kwemi more than 70 NZDF and agency personnel along with nine vehicles and supporting stores were landed.
Key tasks at Port Kwemi include clearing roads and tracks, repairing buildings and water purification. This work is planned to be the NZDF’s main commitment for the next week and up to 100 personnel will be ashore to carry it out.
Senior officers based on CANTERBURY, along with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Vanuatu Government officials, have also been engaging with local government representatives on the island and planning future tasks for the NZDF Task Group and the ship.
Yesterday saw the completion of engineering work in Lamen Bay, the continued reconnaissance and damage assessments of villages in the Port Kwemi area and also of the nearby island of Tongoa which was reported to be badly damaged by the cyclone.
2 Engineer Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Paul Hayward said the majority of the NZDF Task Group is now ashore on Epi Island.
“Our personnel, Ministry of Health and NZ Fire Service personnel have commenced reconstruction and health work. The immediate priority for the NZDF, working in collaboration with our colleagues from the NZ Fire Service, is to restore water supplies to the villages in the area. In the coming days more NZDF personnel will be surged ashore to assist,” he said
"NZDF people have been very eager to get ashore and help the ni-Vanuatu, and they have been received very well by the local communities."
For more information please contact Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980