Soldiers leave Christchurch red zone

10:19 pm on 28 June 2013

The role of the New Zealand Defence Force in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes has ended.

Private Nick Roose at the red zone

Private Nick Roose at the red zone. Photo: RNZ

At its height in March 2011, nearly 1800 soldiers were deployed in the badly damaged South Island city, but that number went down to just 20 and on Friday afternoon operation ended.

The soldiers began by evacuating buildings, distributing food and removing material from liquefaction after the February quake in 2011.

For the past two years they have acted as a security force around the shrinking red zone cordon in the central city.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Wayne Manu took over the operation in June 2011 when reserve forces replaced fulltime soldiers and said the most difficult aspect of the job was dealing with emotional members of the public.

Soldiers said they hadn't seen too much crime, but did find the occasional trespasser.

The Defence Force operation ended at 3pm, but soldiers would be officially dismissed on Sunday.