11 March 2019
Royal New Zealand Navy offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington left Auckland today for the first of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) twice-yearly resupply missions to the Kermadec Islands.
During the resupply mission from today until 22 March HMNZS Wellington will transport about 20 government staff and 13 tonnes of supplies and equipment to help sustain the operations of the Department of Conservation (DOC), MetService and GNS Science in Raoul Island over the next six months.
Lieutenant Commander Tim Hall, the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Wellington, said after weeks of preparation the crew was eager to get on with the job.
“Our Defence Force has supported the work of other government agencies in the Kermadecs for years and recognises that their work is important for our country’s biosecurity and public safety and for scientific advancement,” he said.
DOC is sending six staff to replace those who have been working on the island for the past 12 months and to conduct routine maintenance work on their equipment.
Steve Knowles, MetService’s Network Observations Manager, said MetService staff would be training DOC personnel on the safe use of hydrogen so they could release hydrogen-filled weather balloons carrying instruments that measure wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity and pressure.
The data from the weather balloons would be used to forecast global weather and track tropical storms in the area, he said.
GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott said technicians from the agency would replace the seven-metre communications pole with a nine-metre steel lattice mast on Moumoukai Peak.
Commercial divers contracted by GNS Science will carry out maintenance work on the tsunami gauges at Fishing Rock and Boat Cove on Raoul Island, which detect the threat of tsunamis and feed the data to a national warning system managed by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
On Friday the NZDF obtained the all-clear from biosecurity inspectors, ticking off the remaining requirement for the trip.
Lieutenant Commander Hall said HMNZS Wellington and an embarked Seasprite helicopter passed the quarantine inspection conducted by three DOC staff and three pest-detection dogs.
DOC Conservation Dogs Programme manager Sally Thomas said the inspection checked for rodents, plague skinks, plant material, seeds and soil.
“Quarantine inspections carried out by pest-detection dogs help us keep our islands and mainland sanctuaries pest-free,” Ms Thomas said.
“This is important because many of our precious unique species need to live on these islands without the threat of predation from introduced pests.”