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NZ Army bring aid to Samoan children

Published: 8:53PM Friday June 14, 2013 Source: ONE News

  • Defence Force soldiers pump salt water into a reservoir for desalinisation. (Source: New Zealand Defence Force)
    Defence Force soldierspump salt water into a reservoir for desalinisation. - Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Thousands of Samoan school pupils have received medical treatment and fresh water supplies thanks to the New Zealand Army.

Kiwi soldiers have been helping out in the Pacific region installing water systems and holding health clinics as part of the Annual Pacific Partnership 13 (PP13) with the US military.

Army engineers have put in more than 440 hours work over six days to construct water catchment systems at seven schools on Upolu Island, increasing the fresh water capacity by over 50,000 litres.

Meanwhile NZDF medics have treated more than 2600 people and carried out more than 1600 medical exams in Samoa, as well as performing hundreds of dental and optometry examinations and issuing over 1000 pharmacy prescriptions.

Deputy Mission Commander Darryn Webb said the highlight of the exercise so far has been the "sheer appreciation" of the Samoan people.

"Pacific Partnership planning teams work closely with the host nations in an attempt to ensure we deliver what they want rather than what we think they need," he said.

"The aim is not to create a dependency, but rather develop an enhanced ability for Pacific Island nations to self-manage disaster scenarios and in the process improve our own inter-operability and cultural awareness.

"The outcome so far has been great."

The US-led mission is carrying out Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) activities in the Samoa and Tonga phase of PP13.

The Samoa section was completed this week and the NZDF personnel are now in Tonga working from the USS Pearl Harbor, a large amphibious ship which is the primary platform for the Samoa and Tonga phases of the exercise.

The Pacific Partnership series started in 2006, partly in response to the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, and with the intent of becoming more engaged and agile in the Pacific region. The NZDF has been actively involved each year since 2007.

This year's mission involves six host and recipient nations, including Samoa, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.