Mil­i­tary set to bring Katipo to Kaiko¯ura

Kaikoura Star - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - PIPPA BROWN

Armed forces are ex­pected back in Kaiko¯ura next month, but res­i­dents need not worry.

Kaiko¯ura will play the role of a coastal bor­der town in mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion Ex­er­cise South­ern Katipo, a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in­volv­ing 2000 sol­diers from a dozen coun­tries.

Kaiko¯ura could po­ten­tially see 120 troops ar­rive be­fore Labour Week­end, pri­mar­ily by he­li­copter, with a num­ber of Navy ships sit­ting off the coast be­tween Kaiko¯ura and the Marl­bor­ough Sounds.

For the ex­er­cise, where Kaiko¯ura acts as a peace-lov­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tally-aware com­mu­nity in made-up Alpira, troops will be based at the town’s Churchill Park do­main.

In the sce­nario, they have come to con­trol the bor­der, which will be the Kowhai River, and pro­vide se­cu­rity to the com­mu­nity.

So­cial re­cov­ery team leader Susi Haber­stock said there were some con­cerns the sight of mil­i­tary peo­ple in the com­mu­nity might evoke re­ac­tions be­cause of their pres­ence in the re­cov­ery op­er­a­tion af­ter earthquake.

Haber­stock said hav­ing the forces in Kaiko¯ura would prob­a­bly be a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence though.

‘‘The ex­er­cise is a fan­tas­tic thing to be in­volved with.

‘‘I’ve only heard good things about what they did in the earthquake re­cov­ery re­sponse so I think it will only be a pos­i­tive re­minder of how well the com­mu­nity was looked af­ter.’’

Ex­er­cise South­ern Katipo is New Zealand’s largest mil­i­tary ex­er­cise, held ev­ery two years in vary­ing parts of New Zealand.

This year, per­son­nel will be de­ployed to the Marl­bor­ough, Kaiko¯ura, Tas­man, Nel­son and Buller re­gions over Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

The first part of the ex­er­cise starts in Blen­heim and is based around a sce­nario re­quir­ing mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion due to po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in the fic­ti­tious Pa­cific Is­land na­tions of Be­cara and Alpira, where there is a dis­pute over off­shore oil re­serves.

A bat­tal­ion will com­bine sol­diers across the par­tic­i­pat­ing na­tions of Tonga, Pa­pua New Guinea, Fiji, Brunei, Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia and Ti­mor Leste, Aust- ralia, Canada, United States, France and the United King­dom.

New Zealand De­fence Force di­rec­tor of joint ex­er­cise plan­ning Lieu­tenant Colonel Martin Drans­field said Kaiko¯ura could see per­son­nel from any of the na­tions in­volved.

Mil­i­tary role play­ers will make them­selves known to the com­mu­nity, he said.

‘‘There will be a bit of he­li­copter move­ment, troops on the ground, pa­trols on the streets and some en­gage­ment with the com­mu­nity in the seven to 10 days they are ex­pected to be here.’’

War­rant of­fi­cer Craig Ross said the com­mu­nity could ex­pect to see the sol­diers out and about in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple.

‘‘New Zealand troops go out and work in the com­mu­nity and when we go to places like East Ti­mor and Afghanistan our sol­diers are well known for be­ing able to pa­trol down the street,’’ Ross said.

PHOTO: PIPPA BROWN/STUFF

New Zealand De­fence Force war­rant of­fi­cer Craig Ross, di­rec­tor of joint ex­er­cise plan­ning Lieu­tenant Colonel Martin Drans­field, and So­cial Re­cov­ery Team lead Susi Haber­stock plan Kaiko¯ura’s in­volve­ment with Ex­er­cise South­ern Katipo.

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