Troops to fly home after Afghan tour

Sixty-one New Zealand troops return on Sunday after a six-month deployment in Afghanistan.

The troops, the tenth rotation of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT), will arrive at Ohakea air base.

Colonel Roger McElwain said the rotation was a major success, culminating in a substantial munitions haul this month.

Three caches totalling more than six tonnes were recovered and destroyed.

"It was very satisfying for the team that their planning, co-ordination and effort for a combined operation in such a remote location went so well."

The six-month tour in Bamyan province has seen the troops involved in building and road construction, education projects, explosive ordnance disposal, patrols, training of Afghan national police and providing aid and humanitarian assistance to the local people.

The projects are sometimes difficult and frustrating, but Colonel McElwain says that all the effort is worthwhile.

"Everything we have done here has been rewarding and very well received by the Bamyan people. In our time here we have realised that in this ancient land changes don't occur overnight, but they do happen.

"While some of the work may not seem important to us at the time it is extremely significant to the local people.

"A new well is a small construction project but can provide clean water for hundreds of people over years to come."

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