War relics made posting interesting

Senior Sergeant Darryl Lennane with a downed Japanese plane at Henderson Field, a World War 2...
Senior Sergeant Darryl Lennane with a downed Japanese plane at Henderson Field, a World War 2 military airfield on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Photo supplied.

A temperature difference of 27degC between Honiara and Dunedin was just one of the noticeable changes for a Mosgiel policeman on the beat in the South Pacific.

Senior Sergeant Darryl Lennane returned late last month from a seven-month posting to the Solomon Islands, saying "it was a great experience".

New Zealand police officers have the opportunity to apply for overseas deployment, including working as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (Ramsi).

Ramsi is a partnership between the Solomon Islands Government and 15 Pacific countries, including New Zealand.

Snr Sgt Lennane said his Honiara-based role was one of mentoring, training and advising local police.

"In the old days it was doing the job for the locals, then doing the job with the locals, and now it is a case of mentoring with the locals."

Local police resources were limited, presenting challenges for officers.

"Resources are extremely tight - they don't have many vehicles and many of those aren't running. There is often no petrol for vehicles or for boats to go to other islands and investigate crime. Resources-wise, they are really stretched."

Officers dealt with similar offending to that seen in New Zealand - alcohol, difficulties with unemployed youth and street violence.

However unlike New Zealand, police in the islands had fewer problems with burglaries and thefts, he said.

During his time the island hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Oceania Football Confederation tournament.

Foreign police and army forces were based in the grandly titled Guadalcanal Beach Resort, a beachfront compound.

Surrounded by barbed wire and protected by security guards, the beachfront location did not lend itself to swimming, due to the presence of large crocodiles.

A typical week's work was often between 40-50 hours, Monday-Friday, with officers taking turns to be part of an immediate response team to respond to any public disorder jobs.

For off-duty officers, the island offered some unique sites, and was famous for its diving to WW2 wrecks.

"Some of the wrecks, such as a Japanese submarine, you can snorkel over in a harbour over there."

He also visited Henderson Field, a former military airfield on Guadalcanal, where visitors can see the remains of Japanese aircraft, "and there are big bomb craters all over the islands".


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