The compassion, bravery and knowledge of New Zealand Defence Force personnel who deployed in support of bushfire relief efforts in Australia has been commended by the Australian Defence Force.
CAPTION: Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force Air Marshall Kevin Short is presented the Operation Bush Fire Assist Commendation on behalf of the New Zealand Defence Force, by Colonel Neil Peake the Australian Defence Attache accompanied by Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand Patricia Forsythe. NZDF photo.
In January 2020, more than 170 NZDF personnel travelled to four states in Australia to assist during the intense bushfire season known as the ‘Black Summer’.
The deployment included skilled NZDF firefighters, combat engineers, air dispatchers, environmental health teams, a primary health care team and a chaplain, along with assets including a C-130 Hercules and crew, and three NH90 helicopters and crew.
In the group citation, Chief of the Australian Defence Force General Angus Campbell commended NZDF’s devotion to duty and the contingent’s superior achievements.
“Your professionalism, compassion, knowledge and bravery ensured both state and local authorities could provide effective and timely support to fire affected communities within Australia, significantly reducing the loss of life, devastation to critical infrastructure, while simultaneously supporting local communities and early reconstruction,” he said.
“Your dedication and contribution to the operation under the most challenging of conditions has been exemplary and in the finest Anzac tradition.”
Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said the New Zealand Defence Force could be incredibly proud of the way they displayed their commitment to Australian communities that they assisted during a devastating and highly volatile time.
“Their actions have reinforced the value of our close relationship with Australia,” Air Marshal Short said.
During the deployment, NZDF personnel worked on a wide range of tasks including transporting fuel and water, and supplies such as hay for livestock.
New Zealand Army engineers helped clear routes and remove trees blocking roads, and created fire breaks.
Personnel were also able to help with the wildlife efforts by assisting with the removal of animal remains that perished in the fire, while offering crucial support to wildlife that survived by constructing feeding stations and providing gum leaves and water to koalas.
NZDF personnel involved in Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20 will be individually recognised through the awarding of a gold badge and a copy of the original commendation.
These will be presented by Australian Defence officials at a number of ceremonies around New Zealand in the coming months.