26 July 2016
New Zealanders who serve their country in uniform are making a valuable contribution to local communities, New Zealand’s top military officer has reminded community leaders.
Speaking at the Local Government New Zealand 2016 Conference, the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating, highlighted the impact the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) 14,000 military and civilian staff make, especially in the cities and towns where the NZDF has military camps and bases.
This included using the Defence Force’s skills, equipment and know-how responding during civil defence emergencies; running youth activities like the Limited Service Volunteer scheme; assisting with search and rescue; undertaking bomb disposal; backing hui of national significance; contributing to rural firefighting, and supporting local events that benefit the community.
“If we were a private company we’d be around the fourth largest in New Zealand,” says LTGEN Keating. “My message is that we add a great deal more value than marching in the occasional parade.
“That’s before you even consider the economic impact we have in the regions or the contribution the Defence Force’s military and civilian staff make to their communities through volunteering on the likes of school boards of trustees, belonging to service organisations, or coaching sports.”
LTGEN Keating says that though military facilities were for security reasons often surrounded by high fences or located on the fringes of local communities, the Defence Force wanted to be recognised as an integral part of the communities they belonged to.
“The people who serve and work in your Defence Force do the extraordinary task of keeping New Zealand secure – get to know them, make sure you invite and involve them in the life of the wider community.”
LTGEN Keating also informed local government members on a plan that would shortly be taken to the Government for major new investment in the Defence estate to update and modernise the network of camps and bases across New Zealand. This was signalled in the recently-released Defence White Paper, but has been some time in the planning.
Local government representatives were reassured that there were no plans to close existing camps or bases: “This modernisation will cover every one of our camps and bases. We continue to require the camp and base footprint around New Zealand that we currently have.”
For further information please contact Defence Public Affairs: 021 487 980