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Defence Force arrives in Tokelau for disaster relief exercise

Defence Force arrives in Tokelau for disaster relief exercise

Caption: Tropic Twilight personnel and OTAGO crew offload stores from OTAGO onto the local barge at Fakaofo Atoll, Tokelau.

Twenty-eight Army personnel are amongst the contingent on HMNZS OTAGO that has  arrived in Tokelau as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight.

New Zealand has an ongoing commitment to disaster relief in the South Pacific. Tropic Twilight, a Humanitarian Aid Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise, will see Defence Force engineers, medical, dental and environmental health personnel visit the atolls of Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo from 19 to 26 July.

Working closely with the people of Tokelau, the Defence Force will carry out a number of aid activities in a short timeframe, including medical and dental training, education on sanitation, as well as testing public drinking water sources and completing minor engineering projects. A detachment from the Naval Maritime Survey Team (MSU) will also undertake hydrographic surveys of the reef.

Lieutenant Commander Simon Rooke, Senior National Officer for Tropic Twilight, says the exercise is part of the Defence Force’s ongoing commitment to HADR in the Pacific.

"Exercise Tropic Twilight enables the Defence Force to continue to improve its response capability to disasters within the South Pacific. It provides an opportunity for us to improve co-ordination with key NZ disaster response agencies and also to build relationships with our Pacific partners.

"We’ll be visiting each atoll, working with the people of Tokelau to help improve health, sanitation and drinking water facilities. The Kiwis take great pride in being able to give something back to our Pacific Island neighbours.

"Participation in exercises like Tropic Twilight and Pacific Partnership are also essential for the Defence Force to remain capable and poised to support actual HADR operations such as the Samoan Tsunami and Christchurch earthquakes," says Lieutenant Commander Rooke.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is supporting the work being carried out with $200,000 worth of funding from the NZ Aid Programme. Representatives from MFAT and the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management will work with Tokelau representatives to test the Tokelau Disaster Risk Reduction Plan. Four hand operated warning sirens are also being donated to local residents.

Tokelau has a population of around 1,500 people spread out over three small atolls (Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo). It is accessible only by boat from Samoa, some 500 kilometres away.

 

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