New Zealand and Singapore’s Defence Ministers Gerry Brownlee and Dr Ng Eng Hen today observed Exercise Thunder Warrior, an artillery live-firing exercise at the Waiouru Training Area.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) exercise.
The ministers also conducted the inaugural Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
On behalf of Singapore, Dr Ng thanked the government and people of New Zealand for their strong support in providing opportunities for the SAF to train in New Zealand.
Mr Brownlee and Dr Ng said both nations remained committed to the relationship and looked forward to further opportunities to strengthen defence cooperation.
Building on this positive momentum, Ministers agreed to initiate an annual formal Ministerial meeting to conduct discussions on issues of mutual concern.
The key principles of the 2009 Defence Cooperation Arrangement were endorsed at the ministers’ meeting, particularly that cooperation between like-minded countries on defence and security issues is an essential part of responding effectively to threats to regional peace and stability.
Ministers agreed to explore opportunities for further cooperation between the SAF and NZDF, including training opportunities in New Zealand.
Mr Brownlee and Dr Ng welcomed the establishment of annual Air Force Staff Talks, an Education and Training Working Group and an Operational Working Group, as ways to discuss new cooperation initiatives.
They acknowledged the historical collaboration between Singapore and New Zealand on overseas operations, including in Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.
Mr Brownlee noted that Singapore is New Zealand’s closest defence partner in South East Asia and that New Zealand supported the upcoming counter-terrorism deployment of the Singaporean Armed Forces medical team to Iraq.
Mr Brownlee affirmed New Zealand’s continued commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus framework.
Dr Ng welcomed the Royal New Zealand Navy’s participation of a Naval Task Group to Singapore for Exercise Bersama Shield and the International Naval Review in April 2017.
The Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee says discussions are continuing about the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral.
“The Cathedral Working Group was formed in June to consider restoration options for the earthquake-damaged cathedral,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The group delivered its final recommendation on November 28.
“Proposals from the working group were considered by Cabinet today however discussions continue with the Church Property Trustees.
“Details about what was discussed at Cabinet will remain confidential.
“The story published by Newstalk ZB and the New Zealand Herald this afternoon was wildly inaccurate,” Mr Brownlee says.
A grant of up to $5 million to help with the post-earthquake restoration of Kaikoura Harbour was announced today by Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.
“This grant will ensure work can begin as soon as possible to dredge the harbour, which is a pivotal lifeline to the Kaikoura region,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14 resulted in the seabed rising between one and two metres in some areas, which has severely restricted access to the region by sea.
“We want to help Kaikoura get back on its feet as quickly as possible, so this grant is another part of the support being provided by the Government towards this goal.”
Mr Joyce says a functioning reliable Kaikoura harbour is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the wider Kaikoura district.
“Tourism operators currently only have a two-hour window at high tide when they can use the harbour, while fisheries who rely on trailer-launched vessels are unable to operate at all,” Mr Joyce says.
“We need to get the harbour restored as soon as possible, to get the blood pumping again in the local economy.
“Kaikoura is a vibrant South Island community, and this grant will help ensure this continues to be the case despite the setback delivered by the recent earthquake.”
Both Ministers say the restoration work planned will incorporate safeguards to ensure any impact on the marine environment is avoided, remedied or mitigated.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says 2016 has seen the New Zealand Defence Force respond to natural disasters, train Iraqi soldiers and future-proof the country’s Defence industry.
“I think most of us will remember 2016 as a turbulent and extraordinary year for the world,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force perform essential roles in protecting New Zealanders, supporting our friends and neighbours and furthering New Zealand’s interests around the globe.
“The year kicked off with devastating bushfires in Tasmania where Defence Force firefighters headed to Australia to help our closest ally.
“That was followed by our largest peacetime deployment after Cyclone Winston, which caused widespread destruction in Fiji in February.
“In April, a new battle training facility for our Special Forces, as well as Police and other government agencies, was opened.
“Then, in the middle of the year, the NZDF took part in RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercise.
“Around this time I released the latest Defence White Paper, mapping our unprecedented $20 billion investment plan for defence.
“Amid all this, Defence Force personnel continued to participate in deployments around the world – from the Middle East to Antarctica – to ensure we do our bit in the global community.
“This has included training 16,000 Iraqi soldiers to enable them to combat Daesh.
“This year also saw major ceremonial commitments, including the Army Band performing for Her Majesty, the Queen, at Windsor Castle and the moving Somme commemorations in France, honouring those New Zealanders who fought, and fell, in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
“The Navy also celebrated its 75th anniversary with a year-long series of activities to mark the occasion.
“This culminated in November with the International Naval Review in Auckland where the Navy hosted a large number of foreign warships – including the USS Sampson – the first US Navy ship to visit New Zealand in over 30 years.
“In a striking show of comradeship, three ships – the Sampson, the Vancouver from Canada and the Darwin from Australia – sailed to Kaikoura to join the New Zealand Defence Force response and the HMNZS Canterbury.
“It was a year which, once again, saw our people at their very best.
“As Minister of Defence, I want to thank them, on behalf of all New Zealanders, for their service and sacrifice,” Mr Brownlee says.