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Navy commander takes charge of NZ contingent in Timor-Leste

by Lt Cdr David Pritchett

Navy Commander Andrew Nuttall assumed command of the New Zealand military contingent in Timor-Leste in a change of command ceremony held at the Helicopter Point of Departure base in Dili on 14 January 2012.

Caption: Padre Chris Purdie blesses the “mere”, a symbol of authority which Lt Col Chris Powell later handed over to Cdr Andrew Nuttall.

Cdr Nuttall assumed command of Operation KORU from Lieutenant Colonel Chris Powell of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, who served as deputy commander of the International Stabilisation Force and Senior National Officer of the New Zealand military contingent in Timor-Leste in the past six months. Operation KORU is New Zealand’s contribution to the International Stabilisation Force.

"I look forward to the days ahead and working closely with our ANZAC cousins to support the East Timorese security forces," Cdr Nuttall said.

In his valedictory address, Lt Col Powell noted that Cdr Nuttall came at a time of rapid change, which is expected to continue over the next six months.

"The New Zealanders you command will provide you with the inspiration to complete this mission and to continue making a positive difference in the lives of the Timorese people," he said.

Lt Col Powell also paid tribute to the estimated 10,000 New Zealanders who have served in Timor-Leste since 1999.

"We and those who will come in the future are going to continue the good work of those men and women," Lt Col Powell said. "Some have paid the ultimate price during their service here so we owe it to them and the people of Timor-Leste to continue striving for those high standards that set us apart."

The day of the handover ceremony was a scorcher. Organised by Major Stephen Challies, Officer Commanding of Operation GYRO 12, the ceremony was attended by New Zealand Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Brendan Hopkinson, members of the New Zealand Police contingent, and civilian and Defence Force personnel attached to the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste.

A powhiri to welcome Cdr Nuttall preceded the formal handover. This was followed by a brief parade of eight Light Operating Vehicles, with Lt Col Powell in the lead vehicle. After a short prayer from Padre Chris Purdie, Lt Col Powell handed over the "mere" – a symbol of authority – to Cdr Nuttall, who then said "I have the ship" to signify that he had assumed command of the 70-strong contingent. Lt Col Powell later marched off the field. He had completed his tour of duty and he can be justifiably proud of his achievements as he returns home to a well-deserved reunion with family and friends.


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