New Plymouth man joins NZDF Humanitarian Mission in Cook Islands

SPR Hildred at Exercise Tropic Twilight 2015
SPR Hildred at Exercise Tropic Twilight 2015

17 September 2015

As a 12-year-old cadet, Sapper (SPR) Carlos Hildred spent many weekends taking part in what he then considered "big" exercises on farmland bordering Mount Taranaki.

Currently deployed to the Cook Islands as part of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) participation in Exercise Tropic Twilight 2015, SPR Hildred is a member 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. 

"I’m one of six electricians deployed here to fix potential electrical hazards in a number of public buildings. This deployment is giving me an insight on how a small community lives in a relatively remote part of the world. I’m gaining an appreciation for a new culture," he said.

"It is also a great opportunity to work alongside personnel from other militaries. We often operate with Australian and US personnel but this is the first time we are working with the Chinese," he added.

SPR Hildred enlisted in the New Zealand Army in 2009, one year after graduating from New Plymouth’s Francis Douglas Memorial College. After basic training, he undertook a four-year apprenticeship as an electrician at the School of Military Engineering.

"Getting my certificate as a qualified electrician was one of my most memorable moments since joining the Army.  Another was this year’s Anzac Day in Melbourne for which I was privileged to represent the NZDF. As I marched down the main street to the Shrine of Remembrance, I felt a strong sense of pride for what the ANZACs achieved in Gallipoli and ever since," 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, carpenters, plumbers and electricians from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment are completing light engineering tasks alongside 20 military engineers from China, the United Kingdom and the United States. The FAPF (Forces armees en Polynesie francaise) are also supporting this targeted humanitarian activity.


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This page was last reviewed on 20 September 2015.