25 Dec 2015

Kiwi soldiers celebrate an international Christmas

6:45 am on 25 December 2015

Good food, company and cricket feature prominently on the Christmas Day plans of the 184 soldiers serving overseas.

Soldiers serving in Iraq, Antarctica, Sudan and the Sinai Peninsula spoke to RNZ reporter Catherine Hutton and gave their accounts of what they will be doing on Christmas Day, what they miss about home and what they wanted for Christmas.

A New Zealand solider based at Camp Taji in Iraq said his Christmas Day would be very different to what he would do in New Zealand, although the Boxing Day test was still compulsory viewing.

The soldier, who we agreed not to name, started by describing conditions within the camp:

In Antarctica, Corporal Matt Cameron will get his wish for a white Christmas.

And while much of the day resembles a typical kiwi Christmas with good food and a family atmosphere, he said the polar plunge and Boxing Day test were strictly off limits.

Aside from the food, a few Christmas surprises were flown in from New Zealand:

Meanwhile, in South Sudan a care parcel containing reduced cream and Raro has brought some Christmas cheer to Lieutenant Colonel Rowan Wallace.

He is one of three New Zealanders of a force of about 12,500 based in South Sudan, where his role is to support the military commander overseeing the UN Mission.

RNZ spoke to him after he had been visited by defence force personnel, who delivered parcels from home containing the essentials.

Finally, a New Zealand soldier based on the Sinai Peninsula said she would miss spending time with her daughter and eating seafood this Christmas.

The solider, who asked not be named, is among the 26 Kiwis working as part of a 12 nation force upholding the peace treaty signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

She told us what she had requested from New Zealand: