NATION

NZ Fijian Army Officers Salute Camaraderie

It was a happy reunion between the Fijian army officers and their New Zealand counterparts earlier this week. Three Fijian officers who had trained in New Zealand said they felt
03 Mar 2016 12:46
NZ Fijian Army Officers Salute Camaraderie
The three Fijian officers who trained with the New Zealand Defence Force.

It was a happy reunion between the Fijian army officers and their New Zealand counterparts earlier this week.

Three Fijian officers who had trained in New Zealand said they felt a sense of pride that the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is supporting the disaster recovery efforts in the country.

This is after Tropical Cyclone Winston wreak havoc across the Fiji Group last week.

“It feels good to see the NZDF in Fiji. If I can, I’d like to wear my MCU to show my support for the NZDF,” Second Lieutenant (2LT) Joeli Qalo Logavatu said, referring to the multi-terrain camouflage uniform worn by Defence Force personnel deployed on operations.

2LT Josefa Seru Qolikoro, who attended the New Zealand Army’s Officer Cadet School with Mr Logavatu and Savenaca Degei last year, said the category five cyclone that left a trail of destruction in Fiji had a silver lining.

“The cyclone has brought together the two militaries like brothers. I’m happy we are again working together,” Mr Qolikoro said.

Within hours after the powerful storm struck Fiji on February 20, the three Fijian officers received a deluge of text messages from their New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island classmates at OCS.

“The Kiwis contacted us to ask whether we or our families were affected. One of our instructors, Warrant Officer Class 1 Andrew Boykett, texted and said he was being deployed to Fiji and wanted to catch up with us,” Mr Degei said.

The three army officers, who were the first Fijian officer cadets to train in New Zealand in over a decade, said the year-long training was “a great opportunity to learn how to work alongside other militaries and make new friends”.

“We were given service numbers which, in a way, makes me feel like I am still part of the NZDF. I am proud to be a Kiwi, but with a Fijian heart,” Mr Logavatu said.

“The instructors did not treat us differently because we were international students. They were very fair and taught us well. Weather was the only challenge for us,” Mr Qolikoro said.

The NZDF and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) have recently renewed their engagement. Members of the RFMF took part last year in Exercise Southern Katipo, the NZDF’s major military exercise, marking the first time the two countries undertook joint training since 2005.

 

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