First NZ Defence Force contingent departs for Australian fires

By Jessica Tyson

The first of three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew have departed for Nowra, New South Wales to support the Australian Defence Force efforts in tackling the Australian fires.

The contingent left yesterday from Ohakea and was transported via a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 aircraft.

Two further RNZAF NH90s and crew will depart for Australia over the next two days.

According to the NZ airforce, NH90 helicopters have the capability to support ground operations, disaster relief, search and rescue, counter-drug operations and counter-terrorism. 

A contingent of New Zealand Army combat engineers and a command element will also deploy to Australia via an RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft to support the Australian Defence Force efforts.

A group of 22 fire service personnel will also leave New Zealand for New South Wales on Wednesday, including 20 firefighters, one strike team leader and one liaison officer. They will be in Australia for 11 days, returning on January 20.