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23 September, 2004

The tour of duty in Iraq has come to an end for 61 New Zealand Defence Force personnel. The Light Engineer Group will be met by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark and Vice Chief of Defence Force, Air Vice Marshal David Bamfield when they arrive at Ohakea Air Force Base on Saturday night.

The Defence Force personnel returning from Iraq have spent the past six months in Basra City in the South East of the country, undertaking humanitarian and reconstruction work alongside a British Defence Force engineering unit.

The Government agreed to a one year commitment of a Light Engineer Group to assist with the rebuilding of basic infrastructure in Iraq with the first troops deploying in September 2003. As that commitment comes to an end, the work of the New Zealand Defence Force has made a significant difference for the people of Basra.

Over the last year around 130 personnel have deployed over two six-month deployments. The work of the Engineers has seen clean drinking water become significantly more available in the region and many schools, health clinics and bridges have been refurbished to allow the people of Basra to return to some semblance of normality after the ravages of war.

The flight is scheduled to arrive at RNZAF Base Ohakea at 7.20 pm, Saturday 25 September 2004. Media interested in covering the arrival should contact Commander Sandra McKie on (04) 496 0299.


For further information please contact Commander Sandra McKie, RNZN. Defence Press Officer, Ph: (04) 4960299

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