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NZDF returns to Pacific building scene with work on Niue school

A New Zealand Army Engineer team is in Niue carrying out a number of construction tasks for the local high school as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight.

19 July, 2022

Funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Exercise Tropic Twilight usually occurs annually in the South Pacific, however it was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 30-person team from 2nd Engineer Regiment is upgrading the Niue High School ablution blocks and replacing electrical points, lights and the switchboard in the school science lab.

The Royal New Zealand Navy is also represented in Niue, with 10 personnel from the dive unit, HMNZS Matataua, conducting hydrographic surveys of the wharf and channel.  This will ensure that up-to-date information about access to the island is available in the event of a disaster. 

 Both teams are accompanied by two New Zealand Army medics.

AHSO Nicoli Demafilez conducting survey work on the waterfront.

NZDF personnel demolishing the ablution facilities at Niue High School as part of Operation Tropic Twilight

Able Hydrographic Survey Officer Nicoli Demafilez (on the theodolite) and AHSO Innes Bingham carry out survey work

Land Component Commander, Brigadier Hugh McAslan, said the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) welcomed returning to working in the South Pacific in this way.

“Being able to support our Pacific neighbours in such a hands-on capacity is something that we’ve missed during the past couple of years. We’re committed to providing assistance where it’s required throughout the South West Pacific, and we’re pleased to be back on the ground.”

Brigadier McAslan said the Navy and Army personnel have been in Niue at the same time as the New Zealand COVID-19 response team, made up of five NZDF personnel and nine civilian medical staff who were deployed to assist Niue officials with the current COVID-19 outbreak there.

“We work with sovereign Pacific nations to understand what it is they require, how we can support them, and offer our assets and skilled personnel to assist where we can.  It’s a team effort in Niue at the moment, and we’re more than happy to help,” Brigadier McAslan said.

The NZDF contingent for Exercise Tropic Twilight will be in Niue until early August.