Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

NZ trains first female PNG army officers

NZ Army Captain Tiplady and PNGDF Soldiers.
NZ Army Captain Tiplady and PNGDF Soldiers.

The first female Papua New Guinea army officers have just completed a rigorous training exercise, with the help of a New Zealand Army Captain.

Captain Anika Tiplady was deployed for two weeks to PNG to help train the 24 officers - four of which were the first women officers to serve their country.

It was the first officer training the country had run for 10 years, and trained locals to be officers in the Papua New Guinea Defence Academy.
Captain Tiplady said it was great to be able to help mentor the women and inspire them to be the best they could be.

Four Officer Cadets and NZ Army Capt Tiplady. L-R OC Saroa, OC Esward, CAPT Tiplady, OC Moiya and OC Nul.
Four Officer Cadets and NZ Army Capt Tiplady. L-R OC Saroa, OC Esward, CAPT Tiplady, OC Moiya and OC Nul.

The training wasn't a walk in the park and was designed to push the officers to the limit, she said.

"The point of the exercise was to put them under physical and mental pressure and in doing that we restricted a bit of food, we limited the amount of sleep they had and then we assessed them on how they coped with that pressure and how they maintained their leadership under pressure."

All the trainees received the same treatment, including weapon training, but the women were unlikely to be deployed in combat roles, Captain Tiplady said.

"It's likely they'll be in more logistical support roles."

Violent incidents in recent years have marked the country as unsafe.

Last week New Zealander Nick Bennett survived a deadly ambush while trekking in the Papua New Guinea highlands.

He was among a group of Australian trekkers and local porters attacked by bandits on the Black Cat trail in PNG's northern Morobe province.

Two porters were hacked to death with machetes and knives, while some of the surviving porters suffered gruesome injuries.

But Captain Tiplady said the locals were "the friendliest people I've ever met".

"I've never been anywhere where I've had so many strangers come up to me and shake my hand and say hello.

"I guess they were intrigued by a white woman in uniform."

She said the challenge was satisfying and hoped one day to be able to return.

- APNZ

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