The New Zealand Defence Force will support Pacific Island partners through a range of maritime security and other support in the next three months, Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced yesterday.
“The Pacific is who we are as well as where we are. The challenges our region faces are New Zealand’s too which is why the region is both a foreign policy and defence priority for the Government,” Peeni Henare said.
“Our Royal New Zealand Navy ships HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Manawanui will be departing New Zealand next week for a series of support activities under the banner Operation Mahi Tahi which also includes maritime patrols by Orion aircraft.
“The New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Ministry for Primary Industries are partnering with defence and fisheries officials in Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu for the operation.
“Operation Mahi Tahi will see us working together to provide maritime security patrols to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as undertaking reconnaissance of explosive remnants of war; training and capacity building in the fisheries sector; humanitarian aid and disaster relief planning and Pacific Defence Gender Network engagement.
“Now that most Pacific borders are open we are able to return to more hands-on partnerships in support of our Pacific partners’ priorities in order to achieve a peaceful, stable, prosperous and resilient Pacific region.
“Last week’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Fiji reinforced New Zealand’s deep and long-lasting connections within the region, and reaffirmed the concept of regionalism and a Pacific-led approach to deliver regional peace and security.
“The New Zealand Defence Force has been able to undertake a number of activities in the Pacific despite borders being closed. This includes maritime surveillance for illegal fishing, search and rescue operations, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief responses such as our support to Tonga following the volcanic eruption,” Peeni Henare said.
Operation Mahi Tahi will continue to work with our Pacific partners to support maritime security issues.
“I would like to thank in advance all personnel who are participating and wish them all the best for a successful operation,” Peeni Henare said.