The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has boosted its role on the ground responding to the devastating Australian bush fires.

NZDF is sending an Environmental Health Team, a Primary Health Care Team and a Chaplain to Australia, to support the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles bush fires in Victoria and New South Wales, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.

The Health Care Team will relieve its Australian Defence Force counterpart providing medical support to troops, while the Environmental Health Team will work with the NZDF Combat Engineers to continually monitor conditions and assess risks to personnel, Mark said.

"We have said that we'll support the ADF however we can, and hopefully these latest additions to the range of skills and resources that we're putting on the ground alongside our Australian friends and colleagues will both provide direct assistance and enable ADF personnel to get some much-needed respite.


"I am keeping in close touch with the Australian Minister of Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds, and we're standing by to do whatever else we can."

This latest contingent is in addition to the three Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopters and crew and two New Zealand Army Combat Engineer Sections deployed since Monday.

The NZDF is also operating a C-130 aircraft, crew and support team out of Richmond Air Force base near Sydney, and two air load teams are supporting tasks throughout Australia.

The new reinforcements will travel to Kangaroo Island in South Australia tomorrow, bringing the number of NZDF personnel supporting the ADF to 112.