New Zealand Defence Force personnel have battled rough conditions and coral reefs to reach remote islands on Vanuatu's sweeping archipelago to bring much-needed food, water and medical supplies.
Army and Navy staff worked using small inflatable boats and the HMNZS Canterbury's helicopter to land resources on the islands over Easter weekend, the Defence Force said.
The amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury has now moved south to operate around the southern part of the Shepherd Islands and the islands of Makura and Mataso. These more remote islands have had little contact with the outside world since the cyclone, the NZDF said.
Teams were forced to abandon traditional landing operations and improvise in order to bring the supplies - including food, water and medical staff - onto the islands, the NZDF said, adding "almost every available means has been used to get the job done".
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"The smaller volcanic peak islands make beach access much more difficult," said the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Canterbury, Commander Simon Rooke.
"It has been a real joint effort. We have had Navy and Army personnel working together on the islands, with the Air Force-maintained helicopter working alongside the boats moving equipment, supplies and both NZDF and New Zealand Government officials."
It was "very challenging", Commander Rooke said.
The teams ashore include Ministry of Health doctors and nurses who run day clinics, Urban Search and Rescue representatives checking water supplies and NZDF engineers assessing damage to key infrastructure in the villages.
Meanwhile, some 70 personnel, mainly NZDF, are still working on Epi and Tongoa Islands continuing the repair and rebuilding tasks with heavy equipment that is not suitable to be brought ashore in the southern area.