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The New Zealand Defence Force at Christmas 2004

22nd December,

The New Zealand Defence Force at Christmas 2004

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Christmas in Bamyan, Afghanistan - Private Kelly French, Private Noema Taero and Lieutenant Brian Astwood decorate the Christmas tree Santa hats have been modified for the conditions - camouflage with white trim.

New Zealand Defence Force servicewomen and servicemen in Afghanistan are looking forward to a white Christmas in the snowy highlands where they are based.

The 106 members of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) will be celebrating with carols by candle light on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas day will attend a service conducted by their chaplain, before enjoying a traditional New Zealand festive meal, says Lieutenant Colonel Greg Davies.

The PRT is New Zealand's largest overseas deployment, and is one of 13 NZDF operational missions throughout the world, ranging from Timor Leste, Cambodia and Mozambique, to the Middle East, Bosnia and the Sinai. A total of 204 personnel are currently on operational missions throughout the world

Lt Col Davies says the members of the PRT will spend Christmas Day together. Various activities have been organised to remind them of home, and each will receive a Christmas parcel from the Returned Servicemen's Association, and a letter or card from New Zealand children who have written to the PRT.

While much of the day will be spend relaxing, essential services, such as feeding the contingent and providing security for them, will continue.

"We will be having a hangi on Boxing Day, followed by sporting activities. I think we may try and organise a curling competition given the weather is so cold. The temperature dropped to -24 decrees one night this week."

New Zealander Major General Clive Lilley, and several other NZDF personnel who are based in the Middle East will be attending a Christmas midnight church service in Bethlehem, and will have lunch together in Jerusalem. Major General Lilley is the Chief of Staff and Head of Mission of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, the United Nation's oldest established peacekeeping mission.

While most of the eight members of the UNTSO team will get together in Jerusalem on Christmas day, LTCDR Maxine Lawes will celebrate Christmas at her isolated observation post in Golan Heights. New Zealander Captain Wendy Paisley will spend Christmas at an observation post south of Golan Heights.

Anyone wishing to email messages of goodwill to NZDF personnel serving overseas can do so using the address defenceforcekiwisoverseas@nzdf.mil.nz


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