NZ Defence Personnel Make A Difference In Samoa
Royal New Zealand Navy Able Medic Finbar Marshall demonstrates how to tie a sling with common materials at a Red Cross first aid training event during Pacific Partnership 2013.
New Zealand Army engineers working with US military counterparts have made a big difference to the lives of thousands of Samoan school pupils and teachers as part of phase one of the annual Exercise Pacific Partnership 13 (PP13).
The engineers and their US colleagues put in more than 440 hours’ work over six days, installing water catchment systems at seven schools on Upolu Island. The schools’ fresh water capacity has been increased by over 50,000 litres, a huge benefit for over 3,000 students and teachers.
At the same time New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) medics, also working with US personnel, treated over 2,600 people and carried out more than 1,600 medical exams in Samoa. As well they performed hundreds of dental and optometry examinations and issued over a thousand pharmacy prescriptions.
The US-led mission is carrying out Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) activities in the Samoa and Tonga phase of PP13.
The Samoa section was completed this week and the NZDF personnel are now in Tonga working from the USS Pearl Harbor, a large amphibious ship which is the primary platform for the Samoa and Tonga phases of the exercise.
The Pacific Partnership series started in 2006, partly in response to the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, and with the intent of becoming more engaged and agile in the Pacific region. The NZDF has been actively involved each year since 2007.
This year the Air Force’s Group Captain (GPCAPT) Darryn Webb is Deputy Mission Commander for the first phase of the 96-day exercise.
He and 19 other Kiwis are embarked in the USS Pearl Harbor, and HMNZS Canterbury will be working alongside her in phase two of PP13, for which New Zealand is the lead country for Kiribati and Solomon Islands support in July and August respectively.
GPCAPT Webb said that the highlight of the exercise so far has been the, "sheer appreciation" of the Samoan people.
"Pacific Partnership planning teams work closely with the host nations in an attempt to ensure we deliver what they want rather than what we think they need.
"The aim is not to create a dependency, but rather develop an enhanced ability for Pacific Islands nations to self-manage disaster scenarios and in the process improve our own interoperability and cultural awareness.
"The outcome so far has been great," he said.
PP13 is a Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) mission and centres on the delivery of a wide range of medical and engineering civil aid projects and advisory engagements to build host nation capacity. It gives the NZ Defence Force a chance to work closely with partner nations to ensure our HADR interoperability with coalition partners whilst providing essential aid to Pacific Island nations.
PP13 involves six host and recipient nations: Samoa, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. In addition to NZDF the Australian, Canadian, French, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and US forces and a range of non-government organisations are involved at various stages between May and August 2013.
For more information, contact Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.
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