Building relationships in PNG

Tradespeople from three nations are renovating a school building for the children of Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel posted to Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

CAPTIONAn Australian Army sapper and a soldier of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force help renovate a school during Exercise Puk Puk, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Story by Major Taylor Lynch. Photos by Corporal Brandon Grey.

As part of Exercise Puk Puk, personnel from the Australian Army’s 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Engineer Battalion, and the British Army are repairing the building, with Australian sappers fabricating new components.

Site foreman Corporal Dillon Butler said managing a construction project with partners in such a remote location was a unique experience.

“We started by demolishing the old walls, and removed asbestos sheeting, old structural posts and the old roof sheeting,” Corporal Butler said.

“New components are now being fabricated for installation.

CAPTION: Soldiers of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force build a wooden framework as part of the school renovations.

“I’m enjoying the experience because I’m running a team of multiple nationalities, and the rest of the team are getting a lot out of it because they’re collaborating with people of nationalities they’ve never worked with before. Seeing how different people operate is really beneficial.

The PNGDF tradies have been brilliant, they’re keen to get stuck in and help out wherever they can.”

PNGDF Sergeant Tarzan Napitali said his tradesmen were benefiting from the experience.

“The tradesmen here just completed their apprenticeships, and we made them the priority to come here to experience renovations in a more inaccessible location,” he said.

“Most of them are new guys. I believe they will learn a lot here.

“When we first started, they fitted in well with their Australian counterparts, and by the second day they really started to get to know each other.”

Sergeant Napitali was proud to be working alongside international partners on a meaningful project that would benefit the community.

“It’s good to be part of a job like this, reaching out to the community within the barracks,” he said.

The renovations are due to be finished by the end of October.


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