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Defence Force personnel, alongside New Zealand firefighters, receive Australian awards

In January 2020, more than 170 New Zealand Defence Force personnel travelled to four states in Australia to assist during the intense bushfire season known as the 'Black Summer'.

28 July, 2022

Today, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Jan Tinetti, and Minister of Defence, Peeni Henare, announced that 145 members of the NZDF and 150 Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel have been awarded the Australian National Emergency Medal, with Bushfires 19/20 Clasp.

The deployment included skilled NZDF firefighters, combat engineers, air dispatchers, a primary health care team, and a chaplain, along with assets including a C-130H(NZ) Hercules and crew, and three NH90 helicopters and crew.  

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The New Zealand Defence Force support to the Australian bushfires in January 2020

The Australian National Emergency Medal is awarded by the Australian Government for sustained or significant service during national emergencies in Australia. The medal has been awarded to Australians for five specific emergencies since 2009, the first being the 2009 Victorian Bushfires.

Minister Henare says NZDF played a multifaceted role assisting Australian authorities and the Australian Defence Force.

“The work of our personnel varied from firefighting to transporting fuel and water, and supplies such as hay for livestock, clearing routes, removing trees which were blocking roads, and creating critical fire breaks. Our personnel also contributed to the massive efforts to support wildlife that survived the fires,” Peeni Henare said.

“As the Government’s Defence Priorities reflect, the skilled, brave, and dedicated people of the NZDF are our best asset. It is appropriate that their significant contribution to this massive effort is recognised through these awards.” 

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The New Zealand Defence Force support to the Australian bushfires in January 2020

Both Ministers Tinetti and Henare acknowledged the service of all the New Zealanders who travelled to Australia to support our Australian counterparts.

“The compassion and commitment of our people at this critical time for our Australian friends helped limit the loss of life and devastation to critical infrastructure and supported the local communities while also assisting in early reconstruction,” Jan Tinetti said.

“As Minister responsible for Fire and Emergency New Zealand, I’m proud to acknowledge, alongside my colleague the Minister of Defence, this cohort of 384 as being the largest group of New Zealanders by far to receive the Australian National Emergency Medal.”

Arrangements are now underway to see that all those who’ve been awarded the Australian National Emergency Medal receive them in a fitting way later this year.