Brownlee off to Fiji

  • 22/03/2016
Gerry Brownlee (Brigitte Masters)
Gerry Brownlee (Brigitte Masters)

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is heading to Fiji to check out the work being done by Defence Force personnel in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

At least 42 people were killed and thousands of homes and buildings were left damaged or destroyed when the tropical cyclone lashed the island group last month.

At the peak of the relief effort, the defence force had close to 500 people in Fiji, operating from two ships and a number of aircraft - one of New Zealand's largest peacetime deployments to the Pacific.

Much of their work has been focused on the Lau group of islands.

"New Zealanders can be proud of the achievements of our defence force during this extensive aid operation," said Mr Brownlee, who leaves for Fiji today.

As well as visiting Vanua Balavu with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Mr Brownlee will meet with Fiji's defence minister Timoci Natuva, and agriculture and national disaster management minister Inia Seruiratu.

Mr Brownlee's visit comes just days after five defence force personnel were stood down following an incident in Fiji involving the alleged use of an unknown substance.