Exercise Cartwheel 23: New Zealand Army Trains With Fiji in Jungle Highlands

Taking place in Fiji’s Nausori Highlands, 92 NZ Army Personnel undertook training led by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and US Army Pacific. According to the NZ Defence Forces, “This year, we’ve been providing courses for Fiji personnel, which means they’re receiving the same training as we do in these weapons systems” Continuing, “our personnel from the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and 16th Field Regiment delivered a Mortar Handlers course and a Heavy Machine Gun course, for 3rd Battalion of Fiji Infantry Regiment students.”

Beginning on September 3rd and ending on the 25th, the annual exercise signals yet another step the nations’ are taking to strengthen their relationship, following a June Status of Forces Agreement between the two Pacific nations. Through the agreement, the nations seek to strengthen their security ties, with New Zealand Senior National Officer Michael Doughty stating “a secure, stable and resilient Pacific region benefits us all, and the NZDF is committed to supporting efforts to maintain that environment.” 

New Zealand and Fiji have a long history of cooperation, but relations did sour after a 2006 coup in Fiji, since 2014 however the nations have reaffirmed their close ties, with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka meeting in early June to “reaffirm the strength and spirit of New Zealand and Fiji’s relationship, as outlined in the Duavata Relationship Statement of Partnership.”  

According to Rubaka, the Duavata Relationship Statement of Partnership “is the platform from which we are able to approach issues of mutual interest and importance to Fiji and New Zealand, such as, climate change, social well-being, regional security, and building economic resilience.”