NZ ends 10-year Solomon mission

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 17:58 13/09/2013
nzdf landscape
NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE

Private Tama Haua treats a young boy from Mbarama village in the Solomon Islands.

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The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is deeming their ten year mission to the Solomon Islands a success.

The last of the equipment from the operation arrived in Wellington today on board HMNZS Canterbury, following the end of the decade long deployment by NZDF personnel last month.

More than 1500 personnel worked with 14 other Pacific nations over the years under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Their main role in the early stages was to quell civil unrest and facilitate a weapons amnesty programme which yielded more than 3700 firearms.

From there the job moved to developing infrastructure and providing training and logistical support.

Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, commended all personnel deployed under the RAMSI mission, for their dedication and commitment over the past ten years.

"There is no doubt this deployment exceeded expectations in duration, scale and overall success, but it also provided an excellent opportunity for us to work towards our goal of joint force integration," he said.

"The ability to train and deploy alongside our allies, including Australia, has only strengthened our position as a key contributor within the Pacific region."

Major Patrick Beath served as the final Senior National Officer in the Solomon Islands and said he experienced mixed reactions from locals as the Kiwi contingent prepared to leave.

"Nearly all of them told us how much they enjoyed interacting with the Kiwi troops - that we were compassionate but friendly and professional," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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