Epic Kiwi peace effort in Solomon Islands draws to an end

A delegation from New Zealand has arrived in the Solomon Islands to mark the end of a massive peace and security mission.

The Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) was launched 14 years ago in response to years of ethnic conflict which left the country on the brink of collapse.

Hundreds of Kiwi police and military personnel have played a key role in restoring stability.

On Wednesday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush touched down in Honiara to acknowledge what's widely been hailed as a successful mission.

Back in 2003, New Zealand joined 14 other Pacific countries in responding to a call for help from the isolated, yet ethnically diverse Pacific nation.

The violence between different tribal groups was centred around competition for land and resources on the main island of Guadacanal.

When foreign forces arrived in July 2003, at least 200 had been killed and tens of thousands were displaced.

Constable Willy Fa'foi from the Royal Solomon Islands police force remembers the lawlessness of years gone by, when armed gangs would turn up at the police station.

"It was very tough for us and when we had RAMSI coming over and give us the assistance, it was a great relief for our country," he told Newshub.

More than 1000 defence personnel and hundreds of police officers have contributed, including Superintendent Trevor Pullen.

"As far as the Solomon Islands is concerned, yes, there are challenges ahead; but for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, they can deal with those challenges," he told Newshub.

Superintendent Pullen has been in the country for the past two years training local forces and he's confident they're ready to take over.

"There have been about 120 police officers who have been rearmed. They've been fully trained," he said.

"It's part of the RAMSI drawdown, which means they can take responsibility for the carriage of firearms within the country."

Foreign intervention has helped heal deep-rooted ethnic divisions, which have plauged the Soloman Islands for decades.

But challenges remain. One of the central complaints is that corruption within the political system is rife.

Nine Kiwi police officers will remain in a support capacity, but Thursday marks the official end to what's been a 14-year commitment.