The Government announced in March 2022 that with the re-opening of New Zealand’s border, the decision was made to reduce the 32 MIQ facilities to four by the end of June 2022. The reduction in facilities meant the MIQ workforce in them would change too, with our NZDF personnel beginning to return to their usual duties.
By 31 March 2022, around 90% of NZDF personnel had returned to their respective camps and bases around the country. A small number of NZDF personnel remained in MIQ national office and regional operations to assist with the transition of roles to MBIE.
MBIE Deputy Secretary and Head of MIQ, Chris Bunny, said the contribution of the NZDF had been instrumental over the past two years.
“The skill, professionalism and mahi of the NZDF contribution has been a defining factor in shaping the success of MIQ."
“Along the way bonds have been formed, different perspectives shared and a common approach achieved. The involvement of the NZDF has been an intrinsic part of the fabric of MIQ.”
Friday 13 May 2022 marked the official withdrawal of NZDF personnel from MIQ duties as part of Operation Protect. A ceremony was held at Devonport Naval Base which officially concluded our service on Operation Protect and allowed NZDF leaders and personnel to recognise the significant contribution our people made to keep New Zealanders safe during the pandemic.
“We acknowledge the work of a very large number of NZDF staff, who, for over two years have come together to protect New Zealand, and New Zealanders from a global threat not seen since 1918, when NZ last faced a pandemic of this scale” said Group Captain Glenn Gowthorpe, Commander Joint Task Force.
Operation Protect has been one of the single largest commitments of NZDF personnel made to a response in more than 50 years. Around 6,200 of our people were involved, with some on regular rotations throughout the duration of the operation.
Group Captain Glenn Gowthorpe, Commander Joint Task Force thanked all those who spent time deployed on the Operation.
“I want to thank all of you, the various groups who came together to form the platform for the NZDF to provide the planning, organisation, execution skills and processes that kept New Zealand safe for such a long period. Thank you for your efforts, sacrifices and professionalism.”
- Group Captain Glenn Gowthorpe, Commander Joint Task Force
The commitment to Operation Protect created challenges and opportunities for both the NZDF as an organisation and for our people as individuals.
From leadership development, to working with other agencies, managing risk, developing and delivering in a more empathetic way, and utilising soft skills. The presence, leadership, and mahi of our NZDF people did not go unnoticed and has significantly enhanced the awareness and reputation of the NZDF.
We must too acknowledge the challenges this Operation has presented us, including impacts of career disruptions, BAU training and capability development, and personal or family sacrifices.
As our personnel return to their usual duties at our camps and bases, we have begun regrouping, refreshing our training, and regenerating the capabilities that have been impacted by this enormous commitment.
View our COVID-19 response page for all the latest numbers and information.