Four New Zealand Defence Force helicopters circled Victoria Park last Tuesday night for an evacuation training exercise that drew Foxton residents out of their homes to look skyward.

The air force squadron was tested on fast deployment to evacuate people from a location that is undergoing a national coup or unstable security situation, such as what they were required to do for Cyclone Winston in Fiji and the Kaikoura earthquake.

Victoria Park was secured by Light Armoured Vehicles(LAV) and military personnel with weapons before the helicopters landed one by one.

Victoria Park in Foxton was secured by Light Armoured Vehicles(LAV) and military personnel with weapons before the helicopters landed one by one.
Victoria Park in Foxton was secured by Light Armoured Vehicles(LAV) and military personnel with weapons before the helicopters landed one by one.

Armed military personnel (without ammunition) leapt from the NH90s and took position to start the evacuation.

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Two NH90 helicopters evacuated people from the park and took them back to Linton Military Camp.

They were chaperoned by two A109 helicopters that circled the park providing protection by air.

Horowhenua councillor Ross Brannigan said when he was offered a seat on the NH90 he was excited for what would be his first ride.

Brannigan and the other evacuees were told to grab something important to bring, just as if it were a real-life evacuation.

"So I grabbed my guitar and ran. It was good for people to see the Defence Force in action," he said.

A practice exercise in Foxton saw Air Force helicopters evacuate people from Victoria Park.
A practice exercise in Foxton saw Air Force helicopters evacuate people from Victoria Park.

Squadron Leader Tim Costley said the exercise ran smoothly and he could not be happier with the results.

New Zealand Defence Force senior public affairs adviser Emma Horsley said that in order for the New Zealand Defence Force to maintain its readiness to deploy it needs to train in all environments, including urban.

"Being able to exercise in everyday environments ensures our personnel are able to support domestic, regional and global security situations."