30 May 2018
New Zealand Army engineers have been working with soldiers from the Vanuatu Mobile Force to build two staff houses and an aid post for Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health.
The New Zealanders went to Port Vila in Vanuatu in April to complete the project, which was funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).
Called Exercise Tropic Twilight, the project was designed to provide key infrastructure at the Mele Health Clinic, Erakor Dispensary and Eratap Village. Exercise Tropic Twilight is part of New Zealand’s all-of-government approach to sustain New Zealand aid initiatives and support MFAT's South Pacific development programme through the delivery of building projects.
Captain John Aitken, of 2 Engineer Regiment, was in charge of the exercise and oversaw all three construction tasks.
“The NZDF takes great pride in being able to give something back to our Pacific Island neighbours,” Captain Aitken said. “Exercise Tropic Twilight was a good opportunity for us to enhance the cooperation and relationships with the local communities in Vanuatu.”
The New Zealand Defence Force is familiar with operating in Vanuatu, with many soldiers on Exercise Tropic Twilight having provided disaster relief when Tropical Cyclone Pam struck in 2015.
“This gives an opportunity to rehearse and continue to improve the NZDF’s ability and capability in responding to disasters in the South Pacific region as well as enhancing interoperability with other nations,” Captain Aitken said.
Construction has included pouring the concrete foundation, assembling and erecting steel wall frames, and attaching the roofing and external cladding.