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New Officers Helping Kiwis Returning From Tsunami

New Airport Officers Helping Kiwis Returning From Tsunami

At New Zealand's main International Airports, Victim Support volunteers are working alongside Customs officers to provide a helpful and personal response to those returning from Asia.

Minister meeting the new staff that are now working with victim support

Customs Minister Rick Barker today praised the tremendous effort that has gone into supporting New Zealanders affected by the Asian Tsunami as they return home.

"Many very distressed people are arriving from Asia, particularly through Auckland International Airport, and the airport community as a whole has pulled together to respond," he said.

"Once again, we are reminded that there's no place like home, and everyone at the airports has worked together to make sure that arriving home is as positive an experience as possible by reminding people of our friendly, helpful kiwi way with Victim Support making all the difference."

The Minister says that as the result of the Government's $5.75 million investment in extra border control staff and equipment late last year, border agencies now have the resources to cope with crises as well as the steadily increasing visitor numbers.

"At Auckland International Airport, most of the 96 new Customs officers employed this summer are working on what is known as the primary line where passports and other travel documents are checked. They have hit the ground running and played an important role in connecting distressed travellers with Victim Support.

"The new recruits say they're proud that NZ customs are the first kiwi faces people see and I am told they're doing a brilliant job at a stressful time.

"When we employed and trained these staff to come on board this summer we never dreamed they would face a challenge like this so soon, and I am proud of how well they have responded at this extraordinary time.

"I met a number of the new officers and am confident that, together with their experienced colleagues, they are providing a good kiwi welcome while still keeping New Zealand safe, he added.

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