Family Christmas will have to wait

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 24/12/2012
Matthew Harnett
FAR FROM HOME: Lance Corporal Matthew Harnett will be a long way from family in Palmerston North this year. Here he farewells Australian Defence Force Captain Sarah Mooney at their base in the Solomon Islands.

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It'll be a hot Christmas for Palmerston North-born Lance Corporal Matthew Harnett, as he spends it in the Solomon Islands on his first fulltime mission overseas.

Lance Corporal Harnett, 24, is halfway through a six-month regional assistance mission in the Solomon Islands.

Now based at the army camp in Burnham, the former Palmerston North Boys' High student said he usually spent every second Christmas with his family in Palmerston North, but hadn't done so for a few years.

This year would have been Palmerston North's turn, he said.

A usual family get-together for him on Christmas would be a big family feast at the Willowpark Tavern, with about 60 members of his extended family.

Instead, he will be spending half of Christmas Day working before a formal Christmas lunch at the army base, and possibly a barbecue dinner at night.

While he wasn't too fussed whether it was turkey or ham on the menu, he was looking forward to a Christmas tipple.

He hasn't asked for any gifts this year, but intends to get up early and call his mum before work.

The plan for his eight-man unit in the Solomons was to go out for dinner on Boxing Day, and the camp was putting on a sports day, he said.

In the lead-up to Christmas, they raided the festive supplies of the Australian contingent and scored themselves some decorations and a few Christmas trees, he said.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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