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Year in Review: New Zealand Army

From international deployments to at-home humanitarian aid, the New Zealand Army has grown in capability while strengthening our relationships with our New Zealand community and international partners.

12 December, 2023

Army expertise was essential in breaking through to cut-off East Coast communities, as part of the New Zealand Defence Force’s response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

We welcomed the Bushmasters to our fleet of vehicles, grew our capabilities and interoperability within international exercises, and supported our partner agencies and Pacific nations in operations and training.

Here are just a few of the moments from 2023.

Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle

Rural communities in the East Coast and Hawke's Bay found themselves cut off after the destruction of roads, bridges and services. The New Zealand Army made physical inroads to these settlements, proving routes and creating new ones, delivering fuel, aid, medical care and food supplies. Read more of the Cyclone Gabrielle stories here

Cyclone Gabrielle 2


The first Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles arrived in May, with 43 due to enter service. They carry more troops than the armoured Pinzgauer, due to retire, and offer greater blast and ballistic protection to personnel.



In April the New Zealand Army reinvigorated its longstanding cooperation with the Australian Army with the signing of Plan ANZAC. The Bilateral Service Cooperation Plan creates a formalised framework for many well-established work streams between the two armies.

Plan Anzac

Exercise Talisman Sabre

Around 300 New Zealand Defence Force personnel took part in the largest-ever iteration of Exercise Talisman Sabre, a large-scale combat exercise in Queensland, Australia involving around 30,000 military personnel from 13 countries. 

Talisman Sabre

Signals celebrate 100 years

The Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals (RNZSigs) marked its 100th anniversary with its Colonel-in-Chief, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

Signals 100

Jungle warefare in Fiji

A contingent of 92 New Zealand Army personnel took part in Exercise Cartwheel 23, an annual bilateral exercise involving New Zealand, Fiji and the United States in the Fijian highlands, including handling of mortars and heavy machine guns for Fiji infantry students.

Cartwheel 1 v2

Maori Battalion medals 

Over 400 families have been awarded the medals earned by their whānau for service with 28 (Maori) Battalion during World War Two.

Maori Battalion medals

Black Ferns call-up

Captain Laura Bayfield and Private Leah Miles were in the first-ever Black Ferns XV squad, competing in the World XV tournament.

Captain Laura Bayfield and Private Leah Miles

Captain Laura Bayfield and Private Leah Miles

Antarctic duties

You can find our personnel everywhere, even on plumbing duties for the reconstruction of Scott Base in Antarctica, where Lance Corporal Darryl Spencer and Corporal Andrew Jobling watched the sun set for the last time in months.

NZ Army soldier working in Antarctica

Amphibious capability 

During Exercise Mahi Tahi in Fiji, 5th Movements Company’s Beach Preparation Extraction Vehicle (BPEV) and a CAT938K loader with a FAUN trackway dispenser drove off HMNZS Canterbury’s Landing Craft and onto Pacific Island sands for the first time.

Amphibious Capability

Beating the peat

Army engineering expertise could mean a future helicopter landing zone on boggy sub-Antarctic Campbell Island, a nature reserve 600km south of Bluff. The Royal New Zealand Engineers travelled with HMNZS Canterbury to evaluate a landing site near the scientific camp on the lsland.

A Seasprite helicopter hovers about the ground as it comes to land. Someone is standing with their back to the camera in the bottomr left.

Reservist talent 

Army reserves can be found anywhere between international exercises, providing humanitarian aid and augmenting the Regular Forces with their civilian skills. The NZDF Reservists of the Year were Sergeant Caroline Williams and Lance Corporal Rhys Dillon.

Sergeant Caroline Williams and Lance Corporal Rhys Dillon

NZDF Person of the Year

Lance Bombardier Jake O’Hara, Soldier of the Year, was named New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Person of the Year. As a member of 161 Battery, 16th Field Regiment, his managers say his work ethic and personal skills and attributes set a standard worth celebrating.

Lance Bombardier Jake O’Hara