8 November 2012
Media are invited to attend the return of the last contingent of Defence Force personnel to serve with the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) in Timor-Leste on Friday 9 November .
Deputy Chief of Army, Brigadier Pete Kelly, family and friends will meet the 53 returning Defence Force personnel at Christchurch Airport. The contingent is made up mostly of personnel from 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (2/1RNZIR) and supporting units.
The ISF and the United Nations are reducing their presence given the success of the elections this year. The Defence Force contingent has been replaced by a Theatre Extraction Team who will work with the Australian Defence Force to ensure the orderly withdrawal of equipment.
The Defence Force has contributed to the ISF since 2006, assisting Timor-Leste to maintain a stable and secure environment. Approximately 1,300 personnel have served on the mission from 2006-2012.
Returning Senior National Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Watts, says as the last of the Kiwi contingent to support the ISF returns home they are all proud of what the Defence Force has achieved over the last six years.
"Timor-Leste is a stable country, with its own police and military with primacy for security.
"You can see the Timorese going about their day to day business, people working and enjoying life, children heading to school, playing in the streets dreaming of the opportunities that they now have ahead of them; all this is due to a calm and stable country for which the Defence Force is proud to have played a part.
"For the Defence Force now, our relationship with the Timorese military, the Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste, will transition to a capability building relationship between the two Defence Forces."
The NZ Defence Force has supported various missions in Timor-Leste since 1999.
The Defence Force will retain a footprint for the foreseeable future in Timor-Leste, as five personnel continue to mentor the Timorese military in small arms training, logistics, administration and English.
What: Return of the last contingent to serve with the International Stabilisation Force.
When: 6pm, Friday 9 November 2012. Timings may change - you must register your attendance to be informed of any changes.
Where: Christchurch Airport International Arrivals.
Media wishing to attend the arrival need to register with Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980 by 3pm Friday 9 November.