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Taskforce Kiwi Deploys Additional Teams In Response To Multiple Requests For International Aid In Early 2024

Taskforce Kiwi volunteers in front of an Air Vanuatu aircraft following their arrival on the island of Malekula. Photo: Supplied

Following deployments in January 2024 to Queensland, Morocco and Vanuatu, Taskforce Kiwi (TFK) has now deployed an additional two teams to assist in ongoing disaster relief efforts in Vanuatu and Queensland, bringing the total numbers of volunteers deployed internationally over the past six weeks to 33, across 9 weeks and 3 counties.

A team of seven volunteers have arrived on the island of Malekula in Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Lola, which impacted over 100,000 people across northern and central Vanuatu in late October 2023. This event damaged homes, buildings, power, communications, and roads. Working alongside the Vanuatu Ministry for Education and Training (MOET) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the team is conducting assessments of approximately 55 education facilities across Malekula. This team is also multinational, including a volunteer each from our partners Disaster Relief Australia, and UK-based REACT Disaster Response. The assessment work will underpin local decision-making on which facilities can be safely reopened, and which need repairs, enabling children to go back to school as soon as possible. It follows the successful deployment of volunteers in January, who assessed 44 schools on the island of Ambrym.

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Four TFK volunteers have arrived in the Gold Coast area of Queensland to support the ongoing storm relief efforts of Disaster Relief Australia. This is our fourth rotation of volunteers to Queensland this year, bringing to 20 the number of volunteers who have headed across the Tasman to assist. Based in Nerang, the team are working alongside their Australian counterparts to clear debris from the storms that affected the area over the Christmas period, helping to get communities on the road to recovery. The work being undertaken is a combination of chainsaw operations and manual labour.

“While we didn’t anticipate such a busy start to 2024, our volunteer team has stepped up when it mattered”, says Richard Adams, Founder and National Director of Taskforce Kiwi. “We’re incredibly proud of how our volunteers have continuously put their hands up to assist over the past six weeks, using their valuable skills and experience to help those they’ve never met. The experience gained on these operations will prove to be incredibly valuable as we respond to future events here in Aotearoa”.

None of the three current deployments come at any cost to the communities that TFK is assisting. International travel is coordinated by our partners at Airlink, alongside Air Vanuatu, Qantas, and American Airlines.

About Taskforce Kiwi: Taskforce Kiwi is a nationwide veteran-led disaster relief charity formed in late 2022, that exists to bridge the gaps in disaster response. They do this by utilising the skills and experience of former and serving defence and emergency services personnel alongside members of the wider community, providing direct assistance to impacted communities. At the same time they seek to provide a sense of purpose, identity and community to their volunteers.

Taskforce Kiwi consist of 463 registered volunteers, with the following backgrounds:

  1. 56% are former or current members of the defence force.
  2. 50% are former or current members of the emergency services (FENZ, NZ Police, St John etc).
  3. 17% bring skills from other backgrounds.

Taskforce Kiwi’s priority will always be to support New Zealand communities impacted by disasters, however they carry out international deployments for three reasons;

  1. To strengthen international partnerships, so they can be called upon when needed here in New Zealand. This was the case following Cyclone Gabrielle, when Taskforce Kiwi was able to bring in 72 skilled international volunteers to assist with their work in Hawke’s Bay, enabled by Airlink.
  2. To enhance the skills and experience of volunteers, providing them with exposures to different events and environments. This knowledge will then be used to better respond to future events in New Zealand.
  3. To utilise the skill and experience of Taskforce Kiwi volunteers, helping those who need it, wherever they need it.

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