Taumarunui High School Old Boy Joins NZDF Cook Islands Humanitarian Mission

Corporal Douglas Hawkins on Exercise Tropic Twilight 2015
Corporal Douglas Hawkins on Exercise Tropic Twilight 2015

16 September 2015

Corporal (CPL) Douglas Hawkins will be spending the next month making a difference in the northern Cook Islands as part of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) participation in Exercise Tropic Twilight, a humanitarian and disaster relief mission.

CPL Hawkins is part of a 60-strong multinational task group that is upgrading a critical fuel depot and refurbishing public buildings in the northern atolls of Penrhyn and Manihiki over the next six weeks.

The maintenance fitter from Kaitieke in King Country is leading a team who are responsible for welding fabrication, repairs and machinery maintenance.

“Our job is to provide maintenance support to the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment (2 ER),”  said the Taumarunui High School old boy.

“I am once again able to test my knowledge and skills alongside civilian and military counterparts and to build my experience,” he added.

Inspired by his grandfathers who fought in and survived the Second World War, CPL Hawkins joined the Army immediately after graduating from high school in 2006.

“My dad encouraged me to join the Army as I would get to travel, gain valuable life experience and learn new and useful skills,” he said.

“I would encourage anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship or getting a trade to seriously consider doing so through the NZDF. There is a huge range of trades to choose from and they are in line with the civilian equivalents. You also gain valuable skills and knowledge that can help you develop other parts of your life.”

Since joining the Army, CPL Hawkins has been deployed to Antarctica twice and to various other places.

“My deployments to Antarctica are the most memorable to date. The first time I was there, it was such a shock to be surrounded by ice and snow as far as the eye can see. I was part of the maintenance team that repaired the fuel line supports from Scott Base to McMurdo, working outside in temperatures that ranged from -21 to -7 degrees Celsius,” he recalled.

Exercise Tropic Twilight aims to practise the NZDF’s capability to deploy alongside other militaries to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Southwest Pacific. The exercise is being conducted from 31 August – 12 October in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the government of the Cook Islands.

Around 30 engineers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians from the Army’s 2 ER are completing light engineering tasks alongside 20 engineers from China’s People’s Liberation Army, the US Army and the United Kingdom’s Corps of Royal Engineers. The FAPF (Forces armees en Polynesie francaise) are also supporting this targeted humanitarian activity.


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This page was last reviewed on 16 September 2015.