1 June 2017
New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) engineers have helped fixed several key buildings in Vanuatu as part of a multinational activity led by the French military.
Brigadier Mike Shapland, the Land Component Commander, said five engineers and skilled tradesmen from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment worked with personnel from the French Armed Forces New Caledonia (FANC), the US military and the Vanuatu Mobile Force as part of Exercise Tropic Castor 17.
The multinational team fixed at least eight buildings on Malekula, Vanuatu’s second-largest island, including the sole medical clinic and a primary school. They also installed a new diesel generator, two water pumps and three 3000-litre water tanks, and repaired the water main on the island.
The newly refurbished buildings were handed over to the Vanuatu authorities today.
“We often work with the FANC and the US on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the south-west Pacific. So activities such as Tropic Castor aim to ensure we can work together effectively if required. They also offer an opportunity for us to learn from each other,” Brigadier Shapland said.
Tropic Castor is an engineering reconstruction activity conducted annually in the South Pacific by the FANC. Originally scheduled from 4-27 May, this year’s activity started about a week late because of Tropical Cyclone Donna.
In March 2015, the NZDF sent about 350 personnel, amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury and three aircraft to support disaster relief efforts in Vanuatu in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam.