7 December 2018
New Zealand’s first purpose-built military working dog facility was opened at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland at Whenuapai today.
The new facility replaces older kennels that have housed the unit on the base for many years.
The unit was opened by Deputy Chief of Air Force Air Commodore Mark Brunton in front of more than 40 guests from the Guide Dog Foundation training unit, the police, Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries and other government agencies.
“The RNZAF’s Military Working Dogs are a significant force multiplier, working day and night in a variety of conditions to support military operations both at home locations and overseas,” Air Commodore Brunton said.
“This improved accommodation ensures the dogs’ welfare and comfort, while providing a fit-for-purpose facility to support and enhance their operational working day.”
Military Working Dog Unit Co-ordinator Corporal JD Hines said although military working dogs had been trained in New Zealand for 50 years, this was the first facility designed and built specifically for the unit’s requirements.
“The new facility is much better for the handlers and the dogs and the increased capacity means we can train more dogs ready for service,” Corporal Hines said.
There were now eight kennels in the main block, with four runs, all accessed from within the facility and set up so that two dogs could alternate in a run throughout the day, he said.
“This gives the dogs much longer out in the runs than before and the result is happier and calmer dogs already.”
The new facility includes an isolation block of kennels that can house sick dogs, visiting dogs and student handlers, so they can come and go for training without disturbing resident dogs.
Defence Estate and Infrastructure acting head Phil Gurnsey said he was pleased his team could help enable a long-held ambition to provide a new facility at Whenuapai that reflected the importance of the work of the military dogs and their handlers.
“The Defence Estate and Infrastructure team is committed to providing a modern, high-quality Estate that supports our people, and our canine friends, now and in the future. Congratulations to all involved,” he said.