An Australian Defence Force contingent has deployed to New Zealand as part of the Australian whole-of-government response to a request for assistance following Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle.
CAPTION: Royal New Zealand Air Force officer Flying Officer Ben Pickering travels on board a RAAF C-27J Spartan to asses remote airfields affected by Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle. Story by Flight Lieutenant Vernon Pather. Photo by Leading Seaman Nadav Harel.
Two C-27J Spartans and crew, a mobile air-load team and environmental health-support staff touched down at Royal New Zealand Airforce Base in Whenuapai, Auckland, on 22 February.
The contingent is working with the New Zealand Defence Force and the New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency to support communities affected by the devastating winds and flash flooding which struck the nation on 12 February.
Commander of the contingent Squadron Leader Andrew Clarke said he was proud to be on the ground supporting New Zealand.
Squadron Leader Clarke said he was confident members of the contingent would execute their support roles to the highest calibre.
The Australians began planning their tasks with their New Zealand counterparts soon after arrival.
Squadron Leader Clarke said it was business as usual for Defence personnel of both nations.
“We have a long, proud history of mutual support and camaraderie for each other,” he said.
Part of the RAAF’s air mobility fleet, the C-27J Spartan is able to land and take off on short runways in austere environments, providing a unique option for New Zealand authorities operating in remote locations.