A contingent of personnel from the Royal New Zealand Air Force will be spending almost five weeks in Samoa training for disaster relief, humanitarian aid and search and rescue operations.
The team has departed Auckland on the New Zealand navy's multi-use ship HMNZS Canterbury, carrying four Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopters and the ship's own aircraft to Apia, Samoa.
The ship recently completed a humanitarian aid mission on Pukapuka Island in the northern Cook Islands.
The Squadron Leader from the RNZAF Kavae Tamariki says the flying exercise, Tropic Astra 09 is an annual task designed to provide readiness training in tropical conditions, including civil tasking and aircrew survival training.
"The main exercise is it's training in tropical conditions for our air crew. So getting over there and flying in a tropical environment is totally different to, for example doing mountain flying in New Zealand. So it provides different experiences and different operating environments for our personnel."
Kavae Tamariki says the exercise will run from the end of July to the end of August before the contingent returns to New Zealand for further training.