12 Apr 2020

Dozens of NZers brought out of Vanuatu post-Cyclone Harold

5:42 pm on 12 April 2020

A Defence Force plane has brought 39 New Zealanders back home from Vanuatu after islands in the Pacific nation were devastated by Cyclone Harold last week

A C-130 Hercules aircraft had taken a helicopter and supplies after the cyclone swept through the central islands of Vanuatu.

RNZAF C-130J-30 Hercules

Photo: Supplied / NZDF

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, said the response effort also gave the opportunity to repatriate a large group of New Zealanders seeking to return home.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the largest consular response New Zealand has ever undertaken," said Mr Peters.

"Consular teams here and around the world are navigating extremely complex circumstances every day, to continue to find solutions that work."

Earlier, New Zealand made available an initial support package of $US300,000 to help relief efforts in both Vanuatu and Fiji following Cyclone Harold.

An RNZAF Orion aircraft was also providing surveillance assistance to help assess damage in Vanuatu.

In a statement, the New Zealand government pointed out the Vanuatu operation had been one of a number of successful repatriations.

A chartered medevac flight also carried 13 New Zealanders from the Greg Mortimer Cruise Ship off the coast of Uruguay this weekend.

"These people were in a dangerous situation, with very limited options to return, and a huge amount of work went into assisting them to leave Uruguay," said Mr Peters.

All passengers arriving into New Zealand would enter immediate quarantine.

Aerial assessments have been carried out in Vanuatu.

An Orion had helped with aerial assessments of Vanuatu Photo: VBTC