Soldiers return from last Solomons tour

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 10:23 01/12/2012
soldiers from Solomons

MY HERO: Tama Te Kani, 17 months, is all smiles as dad Barney Te Kani returns. Photos: KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

soldiers from Solomons
CRAZY FEELING: Tessa Brownlee, 19, is reunited with boyfriend Ingmar Kappers.

Relevant offers

National

Labour's Jacinda Ardern registers massive win in Mt Albert by-election Rafters go overboard into Waikato River Scam artist empties motel room in Hamilton Oscar Kightley: Nasa, you're incredible Jonathan Milne: Is it time to take the keys from Police Commissioner Mike Bush? Million dollar real estate agent claimed three months without his Aston Martin would cause 'extreme hardship' School budgets have increased so why are so many principals struggling to make ends meet? Why Three asked a bunch of Aussies how to do the news in New Zealand Single mum battles with mental illness and starts booming make up business Keeping up with the Kardashians 'bad for your mental wellbeing'

Tears flowed but it was all smiles as partners and children welcomed the last of the New Zealand troops home from the Solomon Islands.

Thirty-four personnel from the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, arrived at Christchurch Airport yesterday afternoon after a six-month deployment to the Pacific Island country.

Among the waiting family members was 17-month-old Tama Te Kani, who was wearing a T-shirt that read: "My Papa, A Soldier, My Hero."

His mother, Kezia Tapsell, was nervous and excited to see her partner, Barney Te Kani. "It can be tough when he's away . . . but there's no other choice, you just get on with it."

Tessa Brownlee, 19, was nervously waiting to be reunited with boyfriend Ingmar Kappers.

"It's a crazy sort of feeling. I'm nervous, I feel a bit sick and I just can't wait to see him."

New Zealand first deployed troops to the Solomon Islands in 2003. Deputy chief of army Brigadier Peter Kelly said some non-military staff remained in the country.

"The Solomon Islands needed support with law and order, stability and those sort of things . . . there has been huge progression and we have recently had more of a mentoring and training role."

Kelly said that with New Zealand also withdrawing from Afghanistan next year, the army would be able to focus more on training.

More than 1500 New Zealand Defence Force personnel have been deployed to the Solomon Islands in the past nine years, along with troops from Australia, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content