New Zealand sending Defence Force, Police to Solomon Islands after days of violence and rioting

Fire from a protest in the Solomon Islands.
Fire from a protest in the Solomon Islands. Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand is sending Defence Force and Police personnel to the Solomon Islands after days of violence and unrest.

On Tuesday, the Solomon Islands government formally requested assistance from New Zealand to maintain security in its capital, Honiara. Protests calling for the removal of Prime Minister Manasseh have spiralled into riots, multiple deaths and a humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday, the New Zealand Government announced it will make an "immediate response" to "help restore peace and stability".

"New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"We are deeply concerned by the recent civil unrest and rioting in Honiara, and following yesterday's request of the Solomon Islands government, we have moved quickly to provide urgent assistance to help restore sustained peace and security."

Defence Minister Peeni Henare said an initial Defence Force assessment team of approximately 15 personnel would deploy on Thursday. This will be followed by a larger group of up to 50 Defence Force and Police personnel at the weekend.

"NZDF personnel will support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in maintaining stability, engaging with communities and providing public reassurance," Henare said.

Police Minister Poto Williams added Police would work with the NZDF to add to the contribution already made by Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji to aid in restoring law and order.

"New Zealand Police has a long-standing partnership with Solomon Islands, and has had a presence in Honiara for a number of years," she said.

"Over the past week they have been providing advice and support to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force on the ground, and these extra personnel will provide community liaison and engagement support."

Ardern acknowledged that the deployment "brings its risks and challenges", however New Zealanders "are amongst some of the most highly skilled when it comes to deescalating conflict".

The New Zealand High Commission in Honiara is providing SafeTravel advice to New Zealanders in Solomon Islands, including that they should follow the instructions and advice of local authorities and exercise care.