Battling nasty weather and hard conditions are all in a day’s work for soldiers from the New Zealand Army’s Engineers, as they complete the construction of a new tramping hut for the Department of Conservation (DoC).
The hut at Maropea Forks in the Western Ruahine Forest Park is popular with trampers, hunters and fishers, and is also the habitat of the native whio (blue duck).
It is being replaced as it is suffering from disrepair and, due to changes in the Maropea River channel, is positioned precariously close to the water’s edge.
The team of engineers from 2nd Engineer Regiment, Linton Military Camp, includes a plumber, builders and an apprentice, who doubles as a medic. They have been transported to the remote site by helicopter, spending 10 days at a time working on the project for the past two months.
Cyclone Luci and other recent weather bombs meant extra effort has been needed to stay on task. Pulling out all the stops, the team has stayed on schedule. However, safety is paramount, especially in such isolation, so when the weather closes in the tools go down.
“We have caught up a lot of time by working longer hours when the weather lets us, making sure we stay within safety parameters,” Corporal Paul Cassidy says.
Supplies for the build are being provided by DoC. The team says it has been a great experience working with agencies outside of the military.
“It is always interesting to see how other agencies conduct tasks such as this. It provides us with a lot of experience and knowledge when dealing with any other non-military organisation,” Corporal Cassidy says.
DoC partnership manager Chris Lester says the two organisations had worked well together on the project.
“We’ve been impressed by the work and morale of the guys on the ground. The Army is an excellent partner for DoC, and are delivering a great hut that New Zealanders will be able to enjoy for many years to come,” he says.