New Zealand will help with the identification of victims of the MH17 flight disaster.
A team of three New Zealand Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) experts are due to leave for the Netherlands today to join international efforts to help identify all 298 people who perished when the Malaysia Airlines flight was downed over eastern Ukraine last week.
The announcement was made by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully today.
"Our DVI assistance, which will be provided by NZ Police, is New Zealand's contribution to ensuring the victims are returned to their loved ones," he said.
"New Zealand is encouraged that a process is underway to repatriate many of the bodies from the crash site to the Netherlands, and that the aircraft's flight data recorders are now in safe custody.
"But much remains to be done. The crash site must be properly secured, with unimpeded access for the appropriate international investigating authorities."
New Zealand police had won international recognition in disaster identification with their experience in other tragedies such as the Christchurch earthquake and the Asian tsunami, Mr McCully said.
The three police staff were now en route to the Netherlands, said Superintendent Barry Taylor, national manager of operations.
The Interpol Secretariat General (IPSG), which was co-ordinating the body identification process, had accepted an offer from New Zealand to assist, he said.
"We are pleased to be able to contribute to the international response effort, which is testament the skills and experience of our staff in the DVI field," Mr Taylor said.
"DVI work is an exacting, challenging process which takes time, but our staff will be very focussed on working with their international colleagues to identify the victims and help their grieving families."
The New Zealand staff would be part of an international DVI team headed by Dutch authorities at Hilversum, Netherlands.
The Kiwi trio were on an initial deployment of three weeks, with the possibility of a second three-week rotation of three other staff after that, Mr Taylor said.