31 March 2017
Scientific work in the Kermadec Islands by three government agencies has received a boost following the delivery this week of about 50 tonnes of supplies by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Royal New Zealand Navy amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury, which also transported 50 staff from the three agencies undertaking conservation and scientific work on Raoul and Curtis islands, returned this morning from a nine-day resupply mission to the Kermadecs.
About 40 Department of Conservation (DOC) workers, including botanists and engineers, carried out maintenance work on several buildings and a solar-power generation system on Raoul Island. Five rangers also replaced the five who were stationed on the island.
“We wouldn’t be able to keep this going without NZDF assistance,” DOC operations manager Geoff Woodhouse said.
Apart from food supplies for DOC’s Kermadecs outstation, HMNZS Canterbury delivered 10 tonnes of corrugated iron roof, four 30,000-litre water tanks, four roller doors, a tractor, a tandem trailer and several tonnes of building material, Mr Woodhouse said.
Three MetService staff assessed their facilities on the island and trained the DOC team how to operate and maintain an upper air sounding programme, where weather balloons carrying instruments that measure wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity and pressure are released each day.
GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott said volcano chemists were able to complete the geochemical and gas sampling of springs, lakes and steam and gas vents on Raoul Island.
“The chemists reported little change since the visit in September 2016. Once analysed, the data will provide insights into the current status of the hydrothermal system on the volcano,” Mr Scott said.
The tsunami sensors at Fishing Rock were replaced with stronger and better protected cables to shield them from the harsh conditions on the island. Seismic and GPS equipment was also ungraded.
GNS Science staff also conducted research on Curtis Island, a volcanic island of about 40 hectares that has an active geothermal system and is a breeding site for seabirds.
Commander Simon Rooke, the Commanding Officer of HMNZS CANTERBURY, said the NZDF was pleased to be able to support its partner-agencies by bringing them to an inaccessible and remote part of New Zealand.
“It’s a 1000-kilometre trip to the Kermadecs and with more cargo and personnel capacity, Canterbury is an ideal platform for this mission,” Commander Rooke said.
“The NZDF regularly provides logistical support to other government agencies and the resupply operation to the Kermadecs is the latest example.”