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Fiji praises New Zealand military assistance

Thursday 31 March 2016 | Published in Regional

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FIJI – Fiji’s military commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto has commended the work of New Zealand military personnel in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, saying they are “helping bring back smiles and hope” to devastated areas.

He said the combined teams of engineers from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) have repaired dozens of schools, medical centres and other community buildings on Viti Levu and in Northern Lau.

“All this rebuilding is helping bring back smiles and hope to people in affected areas. The pace of work is quite fast. Those schools that were repaired by the NZDF are among the first to reopen,” Rear Admiral Naupoto said.

“From a military perspective, we are happy with the way the NZDF has deployed its personnel and assets. We are complementing each other very well and we are able to work faster – with the local knowledge that our boys have and the technical expertise and tools from the NZDF,” he added.

Fiji’s military chief said the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s NH90 medium utility helicopters had been “very valuable” in delivering essential aid supplies and transporting Fiji government staff members to remote areas pummelled by the cyclone.

“Those helicopters have the biggest impact on our operation. They are able to deliver food and aid supplies to hard-to-reach areas and they also provide the opportunity for government planners to get to those places and assess the job that needs to be done,” Rear Admiral Naupoto said.

According to the NZDF, the NZDF’s humanitarian aid operation in Fiji is one of its largest peacetime deployments to the Pacific.

- Fiji Times