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Army nurse Captain (CAPT) Hayley Claridge, who grew up in Napier and now lives in Palmerston North, is spending much of the winter in warmer climes.

CAPT Claridge is working in several Pacific nations as a member of the New Zealand Defence Force contingent taking part in the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) preparedness mission Pacific Partnership 2015 (PP15).

All but one member of the nine-strong contingent are aboard the high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket, which has just completed a two-week stay in Pohnpei, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Pohnpei was the second of Millinocket’s destinations for this year’s mission, the first being Kiribati. The ship is now in Solomon Islands, where the team is split between the islands of Guadalcanal and Malaita.

At each port of call her team is working with American and Australian colleagues conducting a wide range of medical engagements alongside local health providers.

While the team was in Pohnpei CAPT Claridge’s tasks included working at outreach clinics, mentoring clinic and hospital nurses as well as teaching Basic Life Support and other nursing skills to nurses, nursing students and support staff.

“It has been incredibly rewarding,” she said.

“The focus of what I do is to help improve the expertise of local nurses, so they can best help their communities not only in their day to day nursing care, but also to respond to crises such as severe weather events, which sadly the Pacific region is all too familiar with.”

CAPT Claridge was born in Portsmouth, England and moved to Napier with her family when she was seven. She attended Napier Girls' High School, studied at the University of Otago then completed her nursing training in Napier.

She joined the Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps in 2002 and her operational deployments include service in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2005 Boxing Day tsunami.

“There are no two days alike in military nursing,” she said. “I love it, it’s a great career.”

The team is expected to return home at the end of July.

BACKGROUND TO PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2015 (PP15)

The purpose of the mission is to build capacity and resilience to disaster in Pacific nations as well as enhancing co-operation between partner nations.

As well as New Zealand and the US, Defence personnel from Australia, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Timor-Leste are involved this year. They are engaged in a variety of local outreach efforts in the seven host nations.

The host nations this year are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, the Philippines and Vietnam. PP15 medical, dental, engineering and veterinary personnel team are assisting each host nation with a wide variety of projects designed to improve their capability and ability to respond to natural disasters, and build regional relationships.

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