A large exercise run regularly by the New Zealand Defence Force has been scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Army soldiers rappel from a Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter at the Rainbow Ski Area in Nelson during Exercise Southern Katipo 2015. NZDF photo.
NZDF had been planning for Exercise Southern Katipo 20 (SK20) to take place in the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty in September and October involving all three services.
However, instead of one large exercise, the NZDF will now run a series of smaller exercises in the latter part of this year and through to March 2021, to maintain readiness.
These exercises will be held near NZDF camps and bases.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF had been working with a number of organisations in the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel regions during the planning stages and he acknowledged some would be disappointed the exercise could not go ahead.
“Unfortunately disruptions to individual and collective training due to restrictions put in place in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic mean the exercise cannot go ahead in its current form,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.
“I want to thank everyone we have been working with for their efforts to date.”
Exercise SK20 was designed as a combined joint and interagency training exercise, with approximately 1400 personnel set to deploy.
No decisions have yet been made on rescheduling the full exercise to a later date.