Skip to main content

New Zealand Defence Force provides support for Solomon Islands election

HMNZS Canterbury and two helicopters are being deployed as part of New Zealand’s programme of support for the upcoming Solomon Islands elections.

25 March, 2024

A team of New Zealand Defence Force personnel and two NH90 helicopters from No. 3 Squadron will travel on board HMNZS Canterbury this week to provide logistics support for the Solomon Islands elections on April 17.

Today’s announcement by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Judith Collins follows a request from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission. It is part of NZ$10.8 million election support programme announced by the New Zealand Government in January.

Earlier this month, HMNZS Canterbury trained with No. 3 Squadron in the Hauraki Gulf in preparation for this mission, conducting multiple flights to and from the flight deck, including winching exercises. The exercise qualified four pilots and 10 helicopter loadmasters in ship operations.

20240312 NZDF Y1036034 024

NH90 helicopter training with HMNZS Canterbury | New Zealand Defence Force

Once there, the helicopters will help transport election officers and materials around Solomon Islands.

Mr Peters says the support programme includes funding towards the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission’s election preparation and management, technical support from the New Zealand Electoral Commission, and an independent observer mission.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our personnel to work again with the Solomon Islands’ Government and alongside Australian counterparts in support of regional peace and security,”Mr Peters said.

“New Zealand’s overall contribution will support the Commission to lead the delivery of a safe and successful election. It demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to a resilient democracy in Solomon Islands and the wider Pacific region.”

Commander Bronwyn Heslop, Commanding Officer of HMNZS Canterbury, says the ship’s company always bonds quickly with the NH90 teams.

The last time No. 3 Squadron travelled with HMNZS Canterbury was during an exercise with Fijian military a year ago, to train personnel in amphibious warfare and relief work in the Pacific.

New Zealand has a long history of supporting elections in the Pacific, including providing a similar level of logistics support during the 2019 Solomon Islands election, alongside the Australian Defence Force.