Murray McCully, the New Zealand Foreign Minister stated that the Defence Force is looking at extending their stay in Fiji for a little longer.
New Zealand’s Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is in Fiji meeting with New Zealand Military personnel there. They are discussing the possibility of an extension of their stay in Fiji, reported RNZ.
The Defence force is currently in Fiji along with HMS Canterbury to assist in the recovery efforts after the Tropical Cyclone Winston. Around 460 NZDF personnel were assigned in Fiji for relief work. This is so far the biggest military deployment outside of a conflict by New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Fire Service, Urban Search and Rescue and the Ministry of Health medical assistance team also helped in the rescue operation, stated RNZ.
Foreign Minister McCully said, “The Fijian government has explored with us staying a little after the 30-day original state of emergency arrangements, and that’s something that we’re looking at, at the moment. To date, we’ve committed about $NZ 5.2 million dollars worth of funding, but that’s just been round the relief stage, and all of the initial indications are that we’ll be looking at more than double that amount during the recovery phase.”
Recently, a number of New Zealand Defence force staff are under investigation after an incident involving an unknown substance during the operation in Fiji, reported stuff.co.nz. A spokesperson in the Defence Force said that five staff members were relieved from their normal duties as an investigation regarding the incident is going on.
The statement said, “the five personnel have been stood down from their normal duties while the investigation progresses.”
The statement also confirmed, “this matter has not affected the NZDF’s humanitarian support operation in Fiji.” Despite the incident, the NZDF will continue their relief operations in Fiji.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee refused to comment on the matter.