A contingent of Royal New Zealand Defence Force personnel is participating in the US-led exercise Pacific Partnership.

The HMNZS Canterbury crew and up to 150 personnel will participate alongside the USS Cleveland, the US Coast Guard, two Australian Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) vessels, and a French Puma helicopter.

Pacific Partnership is a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) exercise, aimed at increasing interoperability between the US, New Zealand, Australian and French forces.

New Zealand Joint Forces Commander, Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell, said the exercise will ensure the New Zealand Defence Force’s ability to respond to natural disasters.

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New Zealand Defence Force personnel will perform clinical, dental and environmental health tasks and education, as well as installing water tanks, refurbishing schools and clinics and helping to clear tsunami debris.

The exercise also involves undertaking general surgical procedures, help with water-harvesting projects and provide refurbishment assistance to schools.