WELLINGTON, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese troops will take part for the second year running in a New Zealand-led military exercise involving humanitarian activities in the Pacific, New Zealand officials said Wednesday.
A multinational task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) would undertake community projects to improve water storage and sanitation in Tonga's Ha'apai island group as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016, the NZDF said.
"The Ha'apai island group suffered greatly during Cyclone Ian in 2014. Two years on, there are still a number of projects that can be undertaken to bring relief to the local people," said Lieutenant Colonel Josh Wineera, senior national officer for the NZDF contingent.
The troops would install 10,000-liter water storage tanks at churches, the fire station and city hall in Pangai, the administrative capital of the Ha'apai group.
A toilet consisting of three cubicles for women and two for men will also be built near the Pangai Ferry Terminal, a high-traffic location.
"Both projects will be of tremendous benefit to the community. The water tanks will enable them to increase the amount of potable water they store to about 50,000 liters. The new public toilets will also improve sanitation as the toilets in the nearby fish market were damaged by the cyclone," Wineera said in a statement.
An environmental health team would carry out a mosquito eradication program to reduce diseases such as dengue and zika, and small-scale dental training would also be provided.
About 60 NZDF personnel, nearly half of them engineers and trades specialists, would work alongside engineers from troops from Tonga, China's People's Liberation Army, which first joined the exercise last year, and the United States Army.
The New Zealand and Australian air forces and the Forces Armees de Nouvelle-Caledonie would contribute key capabilities in support of Tropic Twilight.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said Tropic Twilight would test the readiness of the NZDF to work with the military and governments from around the region on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"The benefits of this training were seen earlier this year when a number of countries co-operated to support Fiji's response to Cyclone Winston," Brownlee said in a statement.
The Ha'apai group is made up of 62 islands that are vulnerable to natural disasters and have limited drinking water supplies.