25 Dec 2014

NZ troops far from home

9:04 am on 25 December 2014

A Feilding woman has swapped Waiouru for Egypt this Christmas to transport fuel, water and food around the Sinai Peninsula with the New Zealand Army.

More than 120 Defence Force personnel are celebrating Christmas in overseas posts.

They are deployed on operations and United Nations missions in 13 countries, including Afghanistan, South Korea, South Sudan, Sinai and the Middle East, and in Antarctica.

Private Kayley Hastie-Hunt, 23, is part of the the multinational force and observers group (MFO) which ensures Egypt and Israel abide by their terms of the 1982 Treaty of Peace.

Ms Hastie-Hunt said her Christmas was usually spent with more than 60 family members in Feilding, but this year was different.

"Our contingent has the day off. So first off we're playing a cricket match against the Australian contingent. And then we all go for a late lunch which the MFO is putting on for us, and then that is followed by a barbeque dinner at the boss's house, and that's followed by a Secret Santa," she said.

Egyptian armoured vehicles in the Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian armoured vehicles in the Sinai Peninsula. Photo: AFP

Squadron Leader Severn Smith is deployed in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) and is based on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria.

"Being in the Defence Force you look forward to doing deployments and doing good by New Zealand. I really like being part of that but it's really tough on family life," said Squadron Leader Smith.

His contingent will share a Christmas meal with troops from other nations, and will enjoy a food package sent by the RSA which includes vegemite and Christmas cake.

Wing commander Peter Gibson, who is in in Bahrain as part of the New Zealand contingent with the Combined Maritime Forces, said time away from family can be hard on the men and women.

He said the Defence Force works with everyone involved so they can all feel supported.