NATION

Helping Other People Is A Rewarding Experience

The opportunity to take part in a humanitarian aid operation overseas is one of the reasons Lauren Christie joined the New Zealand Army three years ago. One of around 400
02 Apr 2016 09:40
Helping Other People Is A Rewarding Experience
The team leader of the HMNZS CANTERBURY Amphibious Beach Team, LT Lauren Christie, at work on Vanua Balavu Island in Fiji, as a landing craft arrives at the shore.

The opportunity to take part in a humanitarian aid operation overseas is one of the reasons Lauren Christie joined the New Zealand Army three years ago.

One of around 400 personnel currently involved in the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) humanitarian aid operation in Fiji, Lieutenant Christie said supporting the cyclone recovery efforts has been “a very rewarding experience”.

“This is exactly what I imagined myself to be doing when I first enlisted.

“My family is so proud that I finally got deployed to do something for another country and represent New Zealand overseas,” she said.

As Commander of the nine-person Amphibious Beach Team, Lieutenant Christie is based at Vanuabalavu Island, which lies 293 km to the north of the Suva.

Her team helps ensure the smooth transfer of vehicles and people from multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterburry to the shore at Lomaloma, the main village on Vanuabalavu Island, using the ship’s two landing crafts.

“It’s great that two weeks after training with Canterburry, my team gets deployed overseas to do it for real and help other people. We’ve done a lot of training around providing humanitarian support but doing it for real is a lot more rewarding,” the 21-year-old said.

“One of the challenges has been the warm and humid climate. It’s a lot hotter here for us. But hanging out with the children at Lomaloma and meeting the local residents are two of the highlights for me.”

A month into her first operational deployment overseas, Lieutenant  Christie has learnt a few useful phrases in Fijian.

“The children at Lomaloma have taught me how to say ‘na waqa sa lako mai’, which means the boat is coming, and ‘na lori sa lako mai’ or ‘the truck is coming’.

“It has really been an interesting and memorable experience for me,” she said.

Source: NZ Defence Force

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