New Zealand

New Zealand


From the time of the INTERFET deployment in 1999, New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) deployments in Timor-Leste have been closely integrated with Australia’s intervention. NZDF personnel are integrated into the ANZAC Battle Groups deployed in Timor, including a rifle company from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

In early 2009, New Zealand had 155 NZDF personnel deployed in Timor-Leste. From April 2007 until their withdrawal in October 2008, a detachment from Number 3 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force served in Timor with Iroquois helicopters.

NZDF personnel also support the UN integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in policing, training and liaison roles.

The NZDF was criticised following the 2006 Becora prison break out, when 57 prisoners escaped from an area where NZDF personnel were patrolling.

Government sources

New Zealand

Country Paper: Timor-Leste, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)

Government policy on Timor-Leste (trade, aid, political relations)

Timor-Leste Deployment, New Zealand Defence Force website

Includes a timeline of key events for the NZDF under Operation Astute.

Timor Leste – FAQ and History, New Zealand Defence Force

What is the NZDF contribution?

New Zealand Defence Force’s commitment to Timor-Leste at present includes approximately 156 personnel, including two Military Liaison Officers serving with the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and five Military Advisors attached to the Timorese Defence Force F-FDTL.

What is their role?

The New Zealand contingent works in an Australian-led mission to assist a force of more than 1000 UN Police to maintain security in the country. New Zealand troops patrol central Dili and area to the East while Australian Defence Forces patrol central Dili and the area to the West.

Where is the contingent based?

The New Zealand contingent in Timor Leste is based at Kiwi Lines opposite the port in Dili. They conduct patrols and vehicle checkpoints to assist UN and local police to maintain security….” 


New Zealand Minister of Defence visits Kiwi soldiers as part of the International Stabilisation Force in East Timor, Image gallery Operation Astute, Department of Defence website, 20 May 2009

New Zealand Minister of Defence, the Hon. Dr Wayne Mapp, recently visited Kiwi soldiers currently deployed as part of the International Stabilisation Force in East Timor. Whilst in East Timor, the Minister took the opportunity to meet with the Commander of the International Stabilisation Force, Brigadier Bill Sowry. The Minister toured several of the Dili bases where the New Zealand contingent are housed, presented the Kiwis with the Timor Leste Solidarity Medal and opened the recently completed New Zealand Chancery. The International Stabilisation Force currently has approximately 650 Australian and 140 New Zealand Defence Force personnel now serving in East Timor in response to a request from the East Timorese Government to assist in restoring peace and stability to the country.”

Joint ADF/NZDF Training

Anzac Exchange Patrol in East Timor, Department of Defence website, 21 April 2009

Two sections of Dili-based Kiwi Company are working with Aussie D Company patrolling Baucau and the eastern districts of Timor as part of Anzac exchange. A five-day patrol took Anzac 1 – a mix of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – to the most easterly point of Timor checking roads and liaising with the locals. At the same time, a section of New Zealanders was in Gleno, to Dili’s south working with G Company. East Timor Battle Group 5’s – Anzac Exchange gives both groups of soldiers a chance to see how the others do business. Three two-week programs were conducted to maintain and enhance interoperability between the two forces. Moving to different areas of Timor gives the soldiers experience in operating in varied terrain – urban and rural. The International Stabilisation Force East Timor is the only combined Australian and New Zealand Force on operations.”

Repelling training for Battle Group Samichon, Australian Defence Force website, 25 October 2007

“A Royal New Zealand Air Force Iroquois helicopter (HUEY) crewman watches as members of Battle Group Samichon are taught airborne repelling in Dili.”

Anzacs on Patrol, Army – The Soldiers’ Newspaper, vol. 11., no.51, September 7, 2006

“Battlegroup Faithful and the 2/1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment’s D Coy have been exchanging soldiers for a week at a time. So far more than 100 soldiers from both countries have lived and worked for a week with a section from the other country. JTF 631 RSM WO1 Dave Ashley devised the scheme as a way of keeping soldiers sharp, giving them new experiences and teaching them new skills.”

Commentary and analysis

Interview with Brigadier Mick Slater, Commander JTF 631, Australian Army Journal, Volume 3 Number 2 2006, pp9-14.

“We have been very fortunate to have our Kiwi and Malaysian friends alongside us in Timor-Leste. I would like to pay tribute to their national component commanders, Colonel Ishmet and Lieutenant Colonel Harker. They have been very collegial and our forces have become comfortable with one another through our exchange programs and joint exercises. We have differences in style and mind-set, but at the operational level we have developed excellent relationships. I immediately deployed liaison officers to each of these contingents and they have ensured that we are all on the same page at all times. This coalition has been very harmonious. The only real issue was the Bledisloe Cup result.”

New Zealand and the 2006 East Timor Crisis, Zhivan Alach, Defender, Australia Defence Association, Spring 2006 p. 26 – 29.

Goff deflects Dili prison break blame, TVNZ, 31 August 2006

“New Zealand has denied its peacekeepers had been withdrawn from guarding an East Timor jail days before a mass breakout. Australian and other foreign troops are hunting 57 prisoners, including rebel militia leader Major Alfredo Reinado, who walked out of Becora Prison in the capital Dili on Wednesday.

“East Timor Justice Minister Domingos Sarmento was quoted by the ABC as saying New Zealand peacekeepers withdrawn from guarding the jail just a few days ago should now be recalled to the prison….he said he did not believe the escape would have happened if New Zealand troops, or members of the broader international force, had been guarding the prison….But New Zealand Defence Minister Phil Goff deflected the blame back to the East Timor government, saying while Kiwi peacekeepers patrolled the Becora district they did not have responsibility for the prison’s security.”

New infrastructure boosts Timor-Leste prisons, UN integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

“Following the escape of several high profile criminals from Becora Prison in 2006, national attention was duly turned to the lack of prison security. The notorious prison break provided the impetus for a complete review and evaluation of prison security.”

See also:

  Updated: 24 August 2009