27 June, 2023
Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s Captain Peter Morlen is normally more at home teaching the techniques of jungle warfare in the heat of his home country, but is warming to his task passing on his knowledge to New Zealand soldiers in the colder climate of Waiouru.
Captain Morlen, from Daru in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, arrived in Waiouru in mid-winter June 2022. He had to quickly acclimatise and get an understanding of his new role.
Responsible for delivering Leadership Training (Garrison and Field) at the New Zealand Army’s Officer Cadet School, Captain Morlen also supports the delivery of the Territorial Force Commissioning Course, Special Officers Induction Course, and the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer’s course.
He comes well qualified for the role, having spent almost 13 years with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF). During that time, he spent three years as an instructor with the PNGDF equivalent school for Officer Cadets.
The secondment, which has been running for more than 30 years, is part of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) Mutual Assistance Programme (MAP), an integral component of New Zealand’s contribution to peace and security in the Asia Pacific. MAP activities include the provision of training, technical and other support to South Pacific and Southeast Asian security and defence forces. It also facilitates opportunities for the NZDF to gain experiences in training and operating in tropical environments.
Captain Morlen has specialist skills that are particularly important for Kiwi soldiers, who often find themselves deploying for various exercises and operations throughout the Pacific.
“I provide techniques, tactics and procedures in close country training and survival in the jungle. And for situational awareness for working in the Pacific, I also teach the main way of life and beliefs for Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island nations,” he said.
Captain Morlen says he’s learnt a lot about New Zealand culture too.
“I never thought New Zealanders had traditions until I was introduced to the NZ Army National Marae, where rich cultural stories are found. And more interestingly is how the Māori culture fits perfectly in the military culture. They complement each other,” he said.
Captain Morlen will return to Papua New Guinea at the end of 2024, and said that so far, he’s really enjoying his time with the NZ Army.
“Kiwis are very respectful, understanding and easy to get along with. Being part of the team, inviting collective ideas is a common practice. I enjoy doing my work and the company of my Kiwi counterparts makes my work easier and interesting. It’s been good to learn new Kiwi ways of doing things and values as well.”