4 Apr 2013

NZ troops welcome last visitors to Bamyan base

9:56 pm on 4 April 2013

Officials visiting a New Zealand base in Afghanistan have been welcomed for the last time as the Defence Force prepares to withdraw its soldiers by the end of April.

New Zealand's Governor-General, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman and Police Commissioner Peter Marshall visited the KiwiBase in Bamyan province on Thursday and were welcomed with a powhiri.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae greets a soldier.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae greets a soldier. Photo: DEFENCE FORCE

Sir Jerry told those gathered that it was important for him to return one last time, on behalf of all New Zealanders, in order to acknowledge the work the Defence Force has done.

He spoke of the sacrifice made by 10 New Zealand soldiers who have died serving in Afghanistan in the 10 years the Defence Force has there as part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Sir Jerry says the reason New Zealand has been successful in its role is the support it has received from the Afghan people, who helped to make the area as safe as possible for the Defence Force.

Earlier, the Governor-General met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the capital Kabul.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Weston, who is overseeing the withdrawal, is confident he will make the deadline.

He told a Radio New Zealand's Belinda McCammon about 100 truckloads of goods will eventually be moved. Some items will be left behind at the base, while others will be destroyed.

Lieutenant Colonel Weston says it has been a balancing act on base, as while he is overseeing the packing up, troops are still carrying out operational duties.

Radio New Zealand reporter Belinda McCammon is in Afghanistan and her reports are compiled subject to military security restrictions.

New Zealand soliders performing a powhiri at KiwBase.

New Zealand soliders performing a powhiri at KiwBase. Photo: DEFENCE FORCE