A New Zealand Defence Force training team is leaving Fiji this week having provided local troops with practical instruction in a range of areas from life-saving first aid to hydrographic surveying techniques.
The team leaves the Pacific nation saying the relationship between the two militaries is in good heart.
The 15-strong team began working alongside its Fijian counterparts in mid-October after completing 14 days’ managed isolation in Nadi.
It was the first time such a large group from New Zealand has deployed to Fiji to train, coach, mentor and embed alongside local military and defence staff.
The team included personnel from the Royal New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, as well as a Ministry of Defence senior policy analyst who shared her expertise in policy development with the Fijian Ministry of Defence and National Security.
The Senior National Officer for the training team, Lieutenant Colonel John Barclay, said everyone in the team had delivered practical information and techniques that would be of use to their Fijian counterparts.
Two NZ Army instructors conducted a course for Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) infantry shooting coaches. The participants then put into practice everything they had learned by delivering weapons training to 20 of their comrades in the Republic of Fiji Navy.
A member of the Royal New Zealand Navy taught a basic hydrography course to a group of eight Fijian Navy surveyors.
Advanced first aid skills including medical care under fire, drag lifts and carries, medical tactical field care and CPR were also taught by team members.
“The training team has reinforced the close bond between Fiji and New Zealand” said RFMF Chief of Staff, Captain (Navy) John Fox.
Lieutenant Colonel Barclay said it had been a real privilege to work alongside RFMF colleagues over the four weeks.
“We have worked with some exceptional soldiers and sailors. We have rekindled relationships built up over many years and established relationships with newer members of the RFMF.
“The Fijian people have a fantastic sense of humour and a love of all things rugby. The respect and fondness between our military personnel is strong and we can’t thank them enough for the support they gave us.”
New Zealand Defence Advisor to Fiji, Lieutenant Colonel Josh Wineera, said the effects of Covid-19 had forced changes to how the NZDF and RFMF engaged, but it had not diminished the relationship.
“In fact it’s the opposite. The deployment of the training team is a powerful demonstration of the NZDF’s genuine commitment to work with and deepen our relationship with an important Pacific partner.”
The team leaves Fiji on Thursday and will spend 14 days in managed isolation on its return to New Zealand.