Navy helps conservation workers return to whānau after year on Kermadecs

By Te Ao - Māori News

A Royal New Zealand Navy ship has helped conservation workers and scientists working in the Kermadec Islands over the past year return to their families in lockdown.

HMNZS Canterbury collected six Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers, plus staff from NZ Met Service and GNS Science, from Rangitāhua Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands group where they have been carrying out pest control, biodiversity, monitoring and maintenance work for the past 12 months.

“To be able to help our colleagues get back to their families in these uncertain times was particularly important to me and my ship’s company and to be able to put our training to use in a real-life situation was fantastic,” HMNZS Canterbury Commanding Officer Martin Walker says.

DOC says the workers were in good spirits after their journey home, returning to Auckland’s Devonport Naval Base. The crew of HMNZS Canterbury, however, were not permitted to depart the ship due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

To collect the workers from Rangitāhua, HMNZS Canterbury had a tight turnaround to travel from the sub-Antarctic Campbell and Auckland Islands and north towards Tonga to get them home.