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Mahi whakaora

When disaster strikes, putting life, health and property at risk, people’s lives are turned upside-down. Communities, regions or even whole countries can need help as quickly as possible.

Our Navy is uniquely capable of responding quickly to unfolding events. We train to operate in tough conditions and a variety of environments. We are disciplined, well-coordinated and have ships and aircraft, as well as personnel trained to operate in difficult situations, that can quickly deploy to a disaster site. The Navy maintains experts who can assess the scale of the disaster situation and determine what to do with the people and equipment we have available.

The Navy can transport materials and experts to help rebuild communities and infrastructure, such as running water and power. In situations where law and order has broken down, the Navy can transport troops and equipment to help civilian authorities re-establish safety and security.

 The Defence Act 1990 says the NZDF will perform any public service and provide assistance to civilians in a time of emergency. It means the Navy, at any time, is on notice to move if an emergency occurs.


A community cut off

In 2016, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck Kaikōura in the middle of the night. Nationally significant and locally vital road and rail links were buried under enormous landslides, or distorted beyond repair. Landline and mobile phone services went down across the region. Power and water infrastructure was disrupted. From 12:02 am Monday 14 November, Kaikōura was cut off.

14 November 2016

It becomes apparent that access and relief to the community – which includes hundreds of stranded tourists – can only happen in the short term by air and sea. While the Air Force takes to the skies to assess the damage and begin evacuations, HMNZS Canterbury, our logistics supply vessel, and HMNZS Wellington, are ordered to head south from Auckland from 11pm.

When HMNZS Wellington arrives, hydrographic teams begin assessing how much the sea bed has altered, paving the way for HMNZS Canterbury and her landing craft to start mass evacuations of stranded tourists to Lyttelton. With MetService losing their automatic weather station, HMNZS Wellington provides this service with their new MetService Automatic Weather Station on board.

Hydrographic teams assess changes in the sea bed.

Hydrographic teams assess changes in the sea bed.

17 November 2016

At the time of the quake, New Zealand is hosting a number of international navies in Auckland to celebrate our Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th birthday. Australia, Canada and the United States offer support to New Zealand. A task force of three frigates and a destroyer, (HMNZS Te Kaha, HMAS Darwin from Australia, HMCS Vancouver from Canada and USS Sampson from the US) are diverted to Kaikōura to support the airlift of supplies into the stricken town. 

We were basically opening the door for Canterbury, to save them time. It meant they could just roll up. It was a long day – 0430 to 2030 – and we just smashed it out in a day

Lieutenant Commander Matt Kaio, Commanding Officer of HMNZS Wellington

Helicopters from these vessels will spend days ferrying aid and supplies into Kaikōura from the deck of HMNZS Canterbury. International air assets - a US P3 Orion and Japanese Kawasaki P1 - also support the response by conducting aerial assessments of the damage.

 18 November 2016

HMNZS Endeavour, the fleet tanker, arrives to restock ships with fuel and supplies. HMNZS Canterbury continues to evacuate residents and tourists to Christchurch, with overseas helicopters lifting more aid supplies off its flight deck and into the town. Once the Army reaches Kaikōura via an overland route, this alleviates the reliance on maritime and air assets to connect Kaikōura with the rest of the country.