A group of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel, with two Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopters, has begun arriving in Honiara to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), as the country prepares to host the Pacific Games.
Around 5000 athletes, officials and support staff are set to participate in the Games, with many thousands more visitors expected in Solomon Islands for the event.
Athletes, including an approximately 45-strong team from New Zealand, will participate in 24 sports during the Games, which will be held from 19 November to 2 December.
As part of preparations for hosting the major sporting event, the Solomon Islands Government requested security support. Members of the NZDF will join personnel from Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in assisting the RSIPF to deliver a safe and secure Games.
New Zealand has a long-standing partnership with Solomon Islands, including on security matters. The NZDF currently deploys personnel as part of the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIAF), alongside the Australian Defence Force and Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Numbers have been boosted under the SIAF mandate to include around 90 NZDF personnel, to provide extra resources during the busy Games period.
Task force deputy commander and senior national officer for the NZDF contingent, Colonel Duncan George, said NZDF personnel would be working alongside their Australian and Pacific partners to support the RSIPF with security for the Games.
“The Pacific Games is a big event on the sporting calendar and one many Pacific athletes aspire to compete in,” Colonel George said.
“Solomon Islands asked for assistance to help ensure the Games are safe, successful and enjoyed by everyone involved.
“We’re delighted to be here supporting our partners in Solomon Islands as they host this fantastic event.”
The majority of the NZDF contingent are RNZAF personnel who will operate two NH90 helicopters in Solomon Islands. The aircraft will be used to transport RSIPF members as well as personnel from Pacific partners who are supporting the Games.
The NZDF deployment will be for approximately three weeks.
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