NZ personnel staying in Solomons to continue stability

A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules transporting vehicles and other equipment and the Ōhakea base this morning. Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defence Force

The government’s decision to extend the deployment of five NZ Defence Force personnel in Solomon Islands by 12 months is to continue its support of the security in the country, Minister of Defence Peeni Henare says.

NZDF personel were deployed in December 2021 following a request for support from the Solomon Islands government after riots erupted in the capital, Honiara.

The deployment had been due to be reviewed by 31 May.

“The defence is already there, we sent them at the end of last year, we’ve recently extended the mandate. From memory we have five or six supporting Australia and the New Zealand Police,” Henare said.

“We’re clearly there just to support, and I’m proud of the work of the Defence Force there, and our primary focus is to ensure that there is stability in the community there.”

The announcement of the extension this week occurred admist tensions between China and Australia following a recent security agreement between Honiara and Beijing.

It also occurs as the government comes under fire from opposition MPs who view China’s growing presence in the Pacific with hostility.

Henare said the Pacific remained a priority for New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence.

“My priority, as I’ve outlined before is in the Pacific, and one of the best ways to that is by having presence. So our people are there now and we’ll look at how we will further support the Pacific by having a presence by the New Zealand Defence Force.

“I know that our Defence Force is respected where ever they go and we have long relationships with Pacific Island countries. We’re always quite clear, we are part of the Pacific.

“So we want to make sure the we continue to be good partners, responsible people in the Te-Moana-Nui-A-Kiwa (Pacific Ocean) and that by supporting the countries, and we are unapologetic about that.”


Source: RNZ