A defence force vessel, carrying more than 150 staff who helped with the relief effort in storm-ravaged Vanuatu, has returned to New Zealand after more than a month away.

The amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury returned to the Devonport Naval Base this morning after playing a key role in the New Zealand Government's support in the wake of tropical cyclone Pam.

The ship brought home more than 150 Navy, Army and Air Force personnel who have been assisting the cyclone-ravaged nation over the past four weeks.

In total more than 350 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have assisted with the relief effort, both in Vanuatu and in New Zealand since Cyclone Pam hit on 13 March.


The Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said that the defence force - working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and aid partners New Zealand Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue and a Ministry of Health medical assistance team - had been able to make a significant contribution to the country's recovery.

"I'm very proud of all the work they've done, in a variety of locations and environments. There have been some big challenges along the way, but rendering assistance in these situations is something we train and exercise quite intensely for and are well-equipped to deliver on land, at sea and in the air," he said.

HMNZS Canterbury was deployed on March 23 with 150 tonnes of food, water and emergency supplies aboard.

NZDF also provided:

• A Combined Task Force Headquarters to advise and assist in co-ordinating the response.

• C-130 Hercules flights for multiple deliveries of aid and personnel, the evacuation of New Zealand citizens, injured locals and delivery into theatre of Fijian military personnel.

• Health teams and Army engineers, who carried out damage assessment, clearing debris from roads, repairs to water and sanitation systems, and to critical public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.

• A B200 King Air aircraft to transport key officials and reconnaissance teams around the Vanuatu Island group.


• A P-3K2 Orion aircraft which provided aerial reconnaissance to aid planning

• Air load, passenger and cargo facilitation teams both in New Zealand and Vanuatu.