Topic: 6 Hauraki and Operation Christchurch Earthquake

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A summary of the 6 Hauraki involvement in the Christchurch earthquake. This article by Sgt Purcell appeared in the 63rd Hauraki News (2011 05).

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6th Hauraki Insignia

Operation Christchurch Quake

Prior to our move to Christchurch, volunteers were called for by Bn and were given a tentative deployment date of 26 March, however, a situational change meant that D-day was brought forward by one week. Despite this, 19 troops made themselves available and we began our advance on Friday 19 March. We stayed at HQ ANR on Friday night and moved to Whenuapai the next morning.

Prior to our departure, the CO briefed all those present (including RNZN and RNZAF) on the current situation in Christchurch - this certainly set the scene for what we were about to experience. En route we stopped at Ohakea to uplift troops from 1RNZIR and were bused to Burnham after our arrival at Air Movts Christchurch

6 Hau Troops - Opn Christchurch Quake

6 Hau Troops - Opn Christchurch Quake

We debussed at “tent city” just inside the gates at Burnham. After locating attachments from 5 and 7 Bn we established a formed platoon with adjacent tent accommodation. We were then given various briefings (Psychological, Legal and Admin etc). Later that day we received orders from Lt Waugh and began battle prep for our first cordon tasking the next morning. Note, except for 3 section, the Platoon was commanded entirely by 6 Hau

With the exception of 3 sections, all command positions within the Platoon were filled by 6 Hau personnel

We travelled light, only carrying what we needed in our patrol packs. Comms were PRR’s (section internal) and SANGAR’s (command). Transport was by TCV (Mog/Pinzgauer). Rations were fresh (in camp) and hot box/cut lunches while on cordon taskings.

Earthquake damage was not evident until we were on final approach to the CBD but soon became very obvious. Troops were debussed at 11 checkpoints. Handover briefings were conducted prior to beginning 12 hour sentry/checkpoint duties. Our checkpoints were located along Moorhouse Ave and Barbadoes St with some significant distances between them. I would estimate our total frontage to be about 1200m. Bicycles were later ordered through stores to enable more rapid movement between checkpoints by section commanders.

Our main effort was to man outer cordon checkpoints that encircled the Christchurch CBD. This involved checking vehicle and personnel passes at entry points as well as security checks on persons moving inside our cordon. The rules were simple – persons or vehicles that didn’t comply with documentation or access requirements were denied entry (no exceptions). Checks were also conducted on persons moving inside our cordon (even civilian security employees) to ensure that they complied with access requirements.

The troops reacted and adapted well in their unarmed roles – here are a few examples.

On one occasion our troops spotted two civilian cars close to a no access area - the occupants were approaching out of bounds retail shops on foot. A Police patrol was called in and they promptly removed the people concerned.

On another occasion our troops identified an intruder enteringa yellow stickered (limited access) building. Their IA drill soon saw a Police K9 (dog) unit arrive on the scene and K9 unit. Luckily for him he chose to make himself seen rather than risk the dog being released (it had teeth like a Mako shark).

One night on Checkpoint 7 a person slipped and hit his head very hard on the pavement just forward of the cordon. The troops applied buddy aide before calling for an ambulance. We later found out that the person they assisted was a journalist.

Checkpoint staff during Operation Christchurch Earthquake

During one of the day shifts a woman was seen moving with difficulty on crutches inside the cordon. Her lower leg area had crush injuries sustained during the quake. After checking her residential pass details she was asked if she required assistance but she politely declined. She was trying to exercise her legs by hobbling to a supermarket to get groceries. She was kept under observation by the troops as she very slowly made her way to the supermarket. When she left the supermarket she re-entered our cordon area and was again stopped for a security check. She was clearly struggling while carrying her groceries on crutches. Assistance was offered again and this time she accepted. A roving Pinzgauer was called in and she was driven to her home inside the cordon and assisted to her doorstep with her groceries. By all accounts she was very (very) grateful for the assistance offered by our troops.

Checkpoint 10 on the corner of Moorhouse Ave and Barbadoes was the main entry point to our cordon area. From about 0630 to 1730 there was a constant flow of authorised vehicles. Extra troops were positioned there to cope with security checks. Note that a vast majority of physical checks were conducted by our troops. A Police officer was stationed 24 hours at checkpoint 10 to provide assistance when required.

The devastation described to us by the CO at Whenuapai was very evident in and around our cordon. It got progressively worse towards the central CBD.

We were all impressed with the level of appreciation shown to us by members of the local Christchurch community. They appeared at nights and very early in the mornings to provide us with hot brews. On one occasion a young girl and her family approached us at checkpoint 10 (above) and gave us a thankyou card and some home baking to distribute to our troops. The words on the card expressed the general feeling that we got from the local public as well.

 Thank you note - Operation Christchurch Earthquake

I was also impressed with the manner with which our troops interacted with members of the public. We also all had the opportunity to mix closely with members of the Police, Navy, Airforce and RF personnel.

On behalf of Lt Waugh I would like to thank our soldiers for their combined efforts during the Operation. They all worked very well and maintained a high level of vigilance with their duties.

I was proud of our soldiers efforts and have no doubt that they have left lasting positive impressions on all people they had contact with during the Operation in Christchurch.

Sgt Purcell 


This page archived at Perma CC in September of 2016:

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6 Hauraki and Operation Christchurch Earthquake

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
6 Hauraki and Operation Christchurch Earthquake by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License