The New Zealand Defence Force's NH90 helicopters has delivered essential aid supplies to cyclone-ravaged communities in Fiji as part of their first overseas mission.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force's 3 Squadron NH90 Detachment Commander, Squadron leader Ben Pryor, said the multi-role helicopters are providing a critical link between the main population centres and outlying islands which were devastated by Tropical Cyclone Winston.
The range and lift capacity of the NH90 helicopter greatly increases the speed with which aid can be distributed to those who need it most he said.
"Food, water and shelter are the most pressing needs. We are assisting the government of Fiji to seize every opportunity to get aid supplies to affected people in hard-to-reach areas."
News that New Zealand is assisting Fiji's disaster recovery efforts has been warmly received at the Tuatua Nasau Primary and Secondary Schools in Koro, an island about 106 kilometres north of the capital Suva, and one of the areas turned into an utter wasteland by the devastating storm.
The schools are serving as temporary shelters to Nasau village's 500 residents, who have been left homeless.
"I heard on radio that New Zealand has come to help. I saw the helicopter arrive this morning and a Fijian soldier told me it was the New Zealand military. That's good because the Fiji Government needs international help to rebuild everything that has been devastated by the cyclone," 23 year-old housewife Eseta Kaitani said.
"We lost everything because of Winston - our house and everything in it, our little farm … we've been left with nothing and we don't know what the future holds. So we are grateful that New Zealand and other countries are helping us." she said.
The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation in Fiji marks the first time that the RNZAF NH90s have been deployed on an operation overseas.
The mercy flights are being conducted in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force , which has deployed seven similar MRH-90 helicopters.
The RNZAF NH90s are operating out of Nausori Airport in the Fiji capital of Suva and may also operate out of some of the remote outlying islands.
They were transported to Fiji by the sealift vessel Canterbury.