Vietnam Veterans Awarded Gallantry Citation by Australia

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

5 April 2019

Fifteen veterans who supported Australian troops in the Vietnam War have been the first soldiers from a New Zealand military unit to be awarded an Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry.

Families also received the citation on behalf of their loved ones who had died.

The veterans from 161 Battery, 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, were presented with their citations at Linton Military Camp by Major General Gregory Bilton, Forces Commander of the Australian Army, on behalf of Lieutenant General Rick Burr, Chief of the Australian Army.

The 161 Battery was part of the 1st Australian Task Force on 23 May, 1966, and provided continuous fire support to successive Australian and New Zealand battalions from that date until withdrawn in May 1971.

The gunners received high praise for the accuracy and volume of fire support they provided at critical stages of attacks on the Australian battalion positions and Major General Bilton said he felt privileged to be able to present the insignias for the award to the veterans.

“This is well deserved and long overdue,” he said.

The veterans were accompanied by dozens of family members to witness the award. Defence and Veterans Minister Ron Mark, who reviewed the parade, said the strong relationship between Australia and New Zealand militaries was no more evident than during the Vietnam War and the relationship continued through current deployments.

“Our military relationship now is stronger because of those who came before,” Mr Mark said.

While this is the first Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry offered to a New Zealand military unit, in 2010 approval was given for three New Zealand Army personnel who were attached to D Company, 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment at the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam in 1966, to accept and wear the Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry awarded to D Company.

Background Information

Members of 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery, initially deployed to Vietnam near Bien Hoa in July 1965. They moved to Nui Dat in the neighbouring Phuoc Tuy province as part of the newly formed 1st Australian Task Force on 23 May, 1966, and provided continuous fire support to successive Australian and New Zealand battalions from that date until withdrawn in May 1971.

One of the first significant operations for the 1st Australian Task Force was to deploy 120 kilometres from their Nui Dat base to an area in Bien Hoa Province designated “Area of Operation Surfers”. This was an area important to the North Vietnamese Army offensive operations being conducted against Saigon in 1968. The Task Force established Fire Support Bases named Coral and Balmoral.

The battles that followed were among the largest and most protracted fought by the Australian Task Force in the Vietnam War. The gunners of 161 Battery received high praise for the accuracy and volume of fire support they provided at critical stages of attacks on the Australian battalion positions.

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NZ-first of its kind online funeral donation-giving platform

Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Christchurch – A Christchurch company has come up with a New Zealand-first concept of a platform so people can give money online for a charity at a funeral.

At the moment, the only other option is for people to set up a page on sites like Give A Little or Everyday Hero. Now, a Christchurch tech business, Memorial Gifting, has produced a much easier way of making online donations to a charity in memory of a loved one that avoids the need for the family to have to set up their own online collection.
“People are able to donate using their credit or debit card by using the link published in the newspaper and on the service sheet,” Memorial Gifting director Terry Fullerton says.

“Donating online has the benefits that the family of the deceased know who has donated and can thank them plus the people making the donations will receive a tax receipt from the charity.
“It is common for the family to ask for donations to a charity in their remembrance and often in lieu of flowers.

“A donation box at a funeral is less effective as hardly anyone carries cash any longer. So, we have solved the problem so people can more easily donate online. We find that with online donations both the individual amount donated and the total donated are much larger than what is collected in the donation box.

“Many funeral directors throughout New Zealand are now using the service to add a link to a death notice that allows Memorial Gifting to activate an online collection allowing people to donate immediately.

“Funeral homes here welcome the idea of phasing out the donation box as it saves their staff time and hassle of handling cash donations. In Australia, it is common to request that the benefiting organisation attend the service to do their own collections.

“Our online donation service is available for all funeral directors to offer to their clients at no cost to the family or the funeral home as an easy, effective way to collect donations. Any funeral home not already using our service only needs to contact us to begin the simple process.

“What is so distinctive about our Memorial Gifting site compared with any other online donation sites is that we enable funeral directors to insert a donation link at the time of writing the death notice, making the service immediate and tailored for the family and benefiting organisation.

“We believe the technology has the potential to do for funeral donations what online donations has done for church collections,” Fullerton says.

For further information contact Christchurch Company Memorial Gifting Terry Fullerton on 027 4729180 or Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 03018

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First major NZ exercise conference in Christchurch for 15 years

Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Christchurch – The phenomenal growth of boutique fitness studios as well as specialist classes such as aqua and spin will be among the topics discussed at the FitEx-Lite conference in Christchurch next month.

The May 18 ExerciseNZ event has attracted interest from hundreds of people and will be hosting speakers from both around New Zealand and overseas.

ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says another big issue to be talked about will be facia. This tissue which is important for stabilisation and mobility within the body, is so often ignored.

“Facia, or the connective tissue between the muscles, ligaments and tendons, is proving to play an important role in not only performance, but everyday movement and, in many cases, restrictions and injuries.

“We will also discuss why rest is so important for the body. Regular exercisers often use techniques and concepts borrowed from athletes yet they seldom use the rest athletes’ and recovery strategies.

“We will also look at solutions on how to support people with chronic health conditions – everything from cancer to Alzheimers. There are so many health conditions which benefit from exercise.

“Learning the what and how of exercising with a serious health condition is essential if we as an industry are going to help about a million Kiwis with a chronic long-term health issues,” Beddie says.

ExerciseNZ has been running major annual conferences in Auckland every for the last 15 years but Christchurch has one of the most active communities of exercise professionals in NZ, taking into account its size.

Beddie says he is excited to launch the first ever FitEx LITE in Christchurch which has been designed to offer world-class education opportunities for exercise professionals and movement practitioners.

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

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NZDF to Help Waiho Bridge

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

2 April 2019

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will help rebuild South Westland’s Waiho Bridge, which was washed away by floodwater caused by heavy rain last week.

Lieutenant Colonel Terry McDonald, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Engineer Regiment, said 18 personnel from the 2nd Engineer Regiment would be working with the New Zealand Transport Agency and engineering and construction company Downer New Zealand to replace the bridge.

The New Zealand Army engineers would be deployed for the duration of the project, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said.

“It is great to contribute our professional expertise to support government agencies responding to communities that need our assistance.”

The Transport Agency’s contracted Bailey bridge installation expert Downer requested the NZDF’s support for the reconstruction of the seven-span Bailey bridge that crosses Waiho River.

A Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge developed by the British for military use during the Second World War.
  
Once completed, the new 170-metre Waiho Bridge would be one of the longest Bailey bridges Army engineers had been involved in building since the Second World War, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said.

Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors said getting the NZDF’s help to assemble the spans on the bridge would ensure it was ready to be launched from the south side of the Waiho River as soon as possible.

“We know how important a link it is in the South Island and for the businesses in South Westland and the Army engineers will play a vital part in the restoration of a key piece of infrastructure.”

Westland authorities said the Waiho Bridge provided vital access to the region and its loss had adversely affected tourism on the West Coast and in South Westland.

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NZDF to Help Rebuild Waiho Bridge

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

2 April 2019

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will help rebuild South Westland’s Waiho Bridge, which was washed away by floodwater caused by heavy rain last week.

Lieutenant Colonel Terry McDonald, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Engineer Regiment, said 18 personnel from the 2nd Engineer Regiment would be working with the New Zealand Transport Agency and engineering and construction company Downer New Zealand to replace the bridge.

The New Zealand Army engineers would be deployed for the duration of the project, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said.

“It is great to contribute our professional expertise to support government agencies responding to communities that need our assistance.”

The Transport Agency’s contracted Bailey bridge installation expert Downer requested the NZDF’s support for the reconstruction of the seven-span Bailey bridge that crosses Waiho River.

A Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge developed by the British for military use during the Second World War.
  
Once completed, the new 170-metre Waiho Bridge would be one of the longest Bailey bridges Army engineers had been involved in building since the Second World War, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said.

Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors said getting the NZDF’s help to assemble the spans on the bridge would ensure it was ready to be launched from the south side of the Waiho River as soon as possible.

“We know how important a link it is in the South Island and for the businesses in South Westland and the Army engineers will play a vital part in the restoration of a key piece of infrastructure.”

Westland authorities said the Waiho Bridge provided vital access to the region and its loss had adversely affected tourism on the West Coast and in South Westland.

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Whangamata Sisters Serve at Sea Together

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

2 April 2019

Two sisters from the New Zealand Army and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) shared a trip to sea last month on HMNZS Wellington for the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) resupply mission to the Kermadec Islands.

Lance Corporal Tamika Taikato, 23, is a Movement Operator with the Army’s Logistics Regiment based at Linton and has been to sea several times with the RNZN. Her younger sister, Able Communications Warfare Specialist Jade Taikato, 21, went to sea for the first time since joining the RNZN in 2017.

The sisters, the two oldest of eight children, who both went to Whangamata Area School, deployed together on the RNZN’s twice-yearly trip to Raoul Island, the largest of the Kermadec Islands, to support the Department of Conservation base there and research work by scientists.

HMNZS Wellington transported 20 government staff and 13 tonnes of supplies and equipment.

“I was excited to be on board with Jade,” Lance Corporal Taikato said. “It was cool to have a familiar face on board and have someone to ask about the Navy and get her insight.

“We didn’t see a lot of each other once we got to the island, because one of us works on the ship and one on land,” she said. “But it was great to catch up on the way to Raoul and back to Auckland.”

It was stories of life in the RNZN from the sisters’ cousin, Petty Officer Combat System Specialist Andre Taikato, who served 17 years in the RNZ Navy and is now a Reservist, that inspired them to join the NZDF.

“I liked Andre’s stories, but I get seasick so preferred to serve on land,” Lance Corporal Taikato said.

“I liked the self-discipline required in the Army and in this role I travel a lot, so joining was good for me.”

She joined the Army in February 2015, completing her basic training at Waiouru Military Camp. She later did her movement operator trade training at Linton Army Camp and spent a couple of years there.

“Since then I’ve had a lot of trips away,” she said.  “I was deployed on a big exercise in the South Pacific with HMNZS Canterbury in April 2018, to Papua New Guinea for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in November and helped with the annual resupply mission in Antarctica.”

Her sister, Able Communications Warfare Specialist Taikato was also inspired by her cousin’s time in the RNZN and visited Devonport Naval Base when he was based there.

“I wanted to travel and play sport and I could do both of those in the Navy, as well as study. It’s a good lifestyle in the Navy,” she said.

After graduating from her RNZN basic training in December 2017, she trained as a Communications Warfare Specialist.
 
“This is my first ship and my first time offshore from New Zealand, so it was a great experience,” she said. “The biggest challenges were learning the ship, no phone service, and leading the Morale Committee on board – getting everyone involved.”

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NZ tech leader to speak at international summit in the Netherlands

Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Auckland – NZTech CEO Graeme Muller has been invited to speak at a major tech event in Europe later this year as interest grows in New Zealand’s transition to a leading digital economy.

He is speaking at the BTG conference in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, and will also attend the Global Entrepreneur Summit in the Hague in early June.  A number of New Zealand tech firms have also applied to attend the Hague conference which is invite only for the top 2000 start ups in the world.

Muller heads NZTech which is a non-governmental organisation that works between government and industry to help accelerate New Zealand’s digital prosperity. Technology is New Zealand’s fastest growing and third biggest industry.

He will be sharing experience from more than a decade of technology forecasting and recent years of policy advisory to discuss what it is taking for New Zealand to be a truly connected digital nation.

At Noordwijk he will share insights from recent research and from the Digital Nations 2030 Summit in Auckland last year which was an international event that brought together governments of many of leading digital nations in the world.

“The Digital Nations summit was the biggest and most important international tech conference ever to be staged in New Zealand and is helping pave the way for faster advances in the Kiwi economy.

“The Netherlands is an exciting and highly relevant country for New Zealand just now. They identified a decade ago that food production would be critical for the Netherlands, and that with the right investment would enable a major export industry.

“While in the Netherlands, I plan to meet the team from Food Valley  and other leaders in agritech to learn more about their transition to a global leader in agritech and to build bridges for investors, entrepreneurs and market opportunities,” Muller says.

For further information contact NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller on 021 02520767 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

Photo: NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller

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NZ Sailor Shipwrecked in Pacific Thanks NZDF Rescuers

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

28 March 2019

A Warkworth sailor who was rescued in the Pacific Ocean in November 2017 has met New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel involved in the successful search and rescue mission to thank them.

“All I want to say is a big thank you to the NZDF – an excellent job done. I’d like to apologise that it has taken me so long to make the connection,” experienced yachtsman Phil van der Mespel said.

Accompanied by his wife Jenny and their son Joel, Mr van der Mespel met personnel from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No.40 and No.5 Squadrons yesterday to express his gratitude.

The sailor was battling stormy conditions about 650 kilometres northwest of New Zealand on his way home from Vanuatu when his boat Waimanu’s mast broke about 4am on 18 November, 2017. One of the support blocks for the mast was catapulted out of the boat, ripping a large hole in the deck.

Buffeted by 40-knot winds and five- to six-metre swells, Waimanu, which had been with Mr van der Mespel’s family for 43 years, began to take on water.

Initially he thought he could pump the water out but the boat was filling up too fast, so after making three mayday calls on his VHF and firing three parachute flares, he got ready to abandon Waimanu.

“I winched the life raft right next to the boat and tossed in everything I needed – grab bag, food, bottles of water, first aid kit, clothes, duvet, and a satchel containing my passport, wallet and ship’s papers. I was expecting to be in the raft for three or four days.

“The deck of Waimanu was a foot or so above the sea when I stepped off the stricken yacht and into the life raft. As soon as I got the life raft ready, I activated my emergency radio beacon.

“And as soon as I had cut the raft free of the sinking yacht I turned around to take a photo of the boat in her last moments but she was gone.”

In New Zealand, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand picked up the distress call and sent a search and rescue request to the NZDF about 7am.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules, with a crew comprising personnel from No.40 and No.5 Squadrons, left Auckland about 9am.

With up-to-date information on Mr van der Mespel’s location from Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, the crew found the yachtsman within a few minutes of arriving on-scene at 10:46am.

“I thought it was another crashing wave but when I peered out I saw the Hercules flying right over my raft,” Mr van der Mespel said.

“When you are floating around in the sea hundreds of miles from anywhere, to see an aircraft come for your rescue is the most reassuring thing in the world.”

After reporting the good news to Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, the crew then contacted the nearest ship, commercial vessel MV Norfolk Guardian, to arrange Mr van der Mespel’s rescue and dropped a smoke flare to help it locate him.

The Hercules remained at the scene until he was safely on the rescue vessel about 2:30pm.

Squadron Leader Brad Scott, the aircraft captain of the Hercules, said meeting Mr van der Mespel was a special experience for the crew.

“It’s very rare for the team to have any further contact with the various people we assist,” he said.

“We feel valued and rewarded just by completing the job. The largest satisfaction comes from helping those in need, particularly when someone’s life is in danger.”

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Former Taranaki Man Returns to His First Navy Ship as Commander

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

29 March 2019

Commander Mike Peebles, who began his Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) training on Anzac frigate HMNZS Te Mana 18 years ago, has now returned as the ship’s new Commanding Officer.

Commander Peebles, 36, returned to HMNZS Te Mana earlier this month, becoming one of the youngest Frigate commanding officers in the RNZN’s history. 

Born and raised in Taranaki, Commander Peebles joined the RNZN immediately after gaining a University Bursary in his final year at New Plymouth Boys’ High School.

“All my mates went to university, but I had a love of the sea and wanted to do something different and exciting,” he said.

After he graduated from Junior Officer Common Training as a Midshipman, he was posted to HMNZS Te Mana in 2001 for three months at sea, during which the ship took part in a large international exercise off Darwin.

“I vividly remember standing on the bridge with fighter jets passing low overhead, buzzing the ship in simulated attacks,” he said. “That made a big impression on me as a fresh-faced 19-year-old and it cemented the feeling that this was where I should be.”

He followed that first posting with training as a warfare officer on inshore patrol and support ships and gained service medals for maritime operations in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

“I served as a bridge watch keeper and boarding officer during two operations post the 9/11 terror attacks, looking for narcotics and illegal weapons in the fight against terrorism,” he says. “It was great being able to put that early training into action being part of a team that was making a difference internationally.”

In 2005 he became Commanding Officer of the inshore patrol craft HMNZS Moa, conducting fishery and customs patrols around the New Zealand coast, and in 2009 he spent a year in the United Kingdom completing the Royal Navy Principal Warfare Officer Course at HMS Collingwood.

After roles at sea and on land after his return to New Zealand, in 2015 he assisted with the successful interception and confiscation of almost 260 kilograms of narcotics as part of a combined Task Force for Maritime Security Operations off the Coast of Africa.

“One of the highlights of that posting was being on the Gallipoli peninsula for the 100-year Anzac Day commemoration,” he said.  “I was proud to represent our country, Navy and ship as Te Kaha sailed past in an international formation.”

In recent years he has completed a staff and command course, graduating with a masters degree in International Security from Massey University, and served as Operations Planner at Joint Forces Headquarters in Wellington.

His command of HMNZS Te Mana begins with the ship based in Canada, undergoing a systems upgrade.

“The regeneration package for the ship will result in new capabilities that will put us on par or above any navy in the world,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to developing and preparing the ship for the next stage of its life. We will be busy preparing for the future by bringing the ship back to New Zealand ready to advance New Zealand’s interests from the sea as a capable and credible fighting force.

“People are what makes the Navy and being part of this amazing team drives me.”

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NZDF Helps Transport Election Officials in Solomon Islands

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

26 March 2019

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have been transporting election officials, police and voting material to several remote communities in Solomon Islands as preparations increase for next week’s general election.

The NZDF has sent 55 personnel and two Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopters to provide support for the Solomon Islands election as part of a combined operation with Australia, in response to a request from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission.

The general election on 3 April is the first since the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands concluded in 2017.

RNZAF Squadron Leader Michael Adair said two NH90 helicopters had been providing back-up transport support as part of a Combined Task Group led by the Australian Defence Force.

Since arriving in Honiara in mid-March, the helicopters had flown election officials to several remote communities, Squadron Leader Adair said. These included Taro Island, which is 500 kilometres northwest of the capital Honiara, Gizo, the second-largest town in Solomon Islands, about 380 kilometres northwest of Honiara, and Munda, a town on the island of Munda which is 320 kilometres northwest of the capital.

“The NH90 is ideally suited to provide logistic support because of their ability to land in remote locations and fly for 2.8 hours without refuelling,” he said.

“Together with the Australian Defence Force’s MRH90 helicopters, we have been flying to outlying islands to transport election officials, ballot boxes and other election material under the guidance of Solomon Islands authorities.

“By providing this support we are helping Solomon Islands authorities ensure voting material is delivered across the country before election day.”

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