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Last Kiwi contingent returns from Solomon Islands

Friday 30 Nov 2012 5:57 p.m.

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The final contingent of New Zealand soldiers has returned from the Solomon Islands, ending nearly a decade of New Zealand Army peacekeeping there.

Around 40 personnel, mainly from Burnham, arrived at Christchurch Airport this afternoon.

They were deployed in the Solomon Islands for just six months, but New Zealand soldiers have had a peacekeeping presence in the small Pacific country for 10 years.

In 2003, after nearly three years of general lawlessness and insecurity, New Zealand troops headed over with Australian and Pacific Island nations to help local police restore law and order.

But tensions rose again after the general election in 2006. People took to protesting in the streets – smashing shop windows and setting fire to Chinatown amidst allegations of corruption.

Six years on and the Solomon Islands are finally a peaceful place. Confidence in the local police force has been restored, and the country even hosted Prince William and wife Kate this year without incident.

The remaining international military presence in the nation is expected to wind down next year with platoons from Australia and Papua New Guinea remaining for now.

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