31 July 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has sent a helicopter to help clean up areas in Westland’s rubbish-strewn coastline that are difficult to access.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) A109 light utility helicopter is in Westland supporting the next phase of the clean-up along the West Coast’s 64-kilometre coastline, Joint Forces New Zealand Commander Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said.
“Air logistics support is important for operations such as this, which covers a vast area and includes parts that are very remote,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.
Royal New Zealand Navy Lieutenant Luke Godsell, the aircraft captain, said the helicopter would be flying clean-up teams to Zone 3, along the coastline, of the affected area until 2 August.
“There’s no road access to these areas, so the quickest way to bring personnel there is by air,” Lieutenant Godsell said.
The aircraft would also support Department of Conservation (DOC) staff in conducting an aerial survey of work sites, he said.
“The aim is to assess the progress of the work done so far, since it had been almost two weeks since we last conducted a helicopter reconnaissance.”
DOC Incident Controller Owen Kilgour said having a helicopter would enable clean-up teams to be transferred to and from remote spots of the coastline.
“The continued support of the NZDF has enabled us to clear large areas of rubbish and support large numbers of volunteers on the clean-up, which has been key to the excellent progress to date,” Mr Kilgour said.
The NZDF currently has about 70 personnel from the three Services – Royal New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force – and 12 vehicles supporting the Fox River clean-up.
An RNZAF A109 helicopter helped DOC conduct an aerial survey on 18 July.
Video is available at http://bit.ly/NZDFMedia.