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A Defence Force chartered C-130 Hercules left Whenuapai in Auckland on Friday then flew to Dunedin, picking up staff there, then picked officers up from Christchurch and Woodbourne Military Camp in Blenheim.
A scheduled stop at Wellington was called off because of the weather, meaning district and Royal New Zealand Police College staff were bussed to join the flight at Ohakea airbase for the final hop to Hamilton.
The flight and the 32 reinforcements arrived in Hamilton on Friday to support enforcement efforts at the Waikato/Tāmaki Makaurau checkpoints.
Staff from Bay of Plenty and Central Districts have already been helping at the border, taking the total of out-of-district staff to 45.
The new arrivals were welcomed to Hamilton by Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird.
These staff are the first of three rotations into Waikato to provide relief for checkpoint staff and ensure Level 4 enforcement of Tāmaki Makaurau’s southern boundary continues safely.
“We’re grateful to these officers from around the country for aiding us during a very busy time for the Upper North districts,” says Bird.
“Our colleagues in Tāmaki Makaurau have a big job ahead, with alert level 4 enforcement still a big focus for them as well as the checkpoints which are playing a major role as part of the reassurance we provide to communities on both sides of the boundary.”
Waiting to board the Hercules, Constable Analupe Halaleva, of Dunedin, and Senior Constable Karren Bye, from Mosgiel, were both appreciating the chance to help.
Analupe agreed: “I like the fact that we are giving some hard-working colleagues a chance to have a break.”
It might be called Operation Romeo, but the work is anything but romantic.
Police staff - including Central Districts relievers - worked on Friday night at Orams Rd on the Waikato-Counties border and had to contend with some wild weather, including a mini tornado which knocked over nearly every road cone for at least 2km along the motorway.
Standing them up again took a long time but thankfully police had help from NZDF personnel working at the checkpoint.
Some unruly farm animals then tested their shepherding skills, with around 40 cattle trying to decamp from a paddock on to Mercer Ferry Rd.
Police staff managed to herd them on to Orams Rd and the cattle were corralled back to their own property by police, NZDF staff and the farmer.
According to witnesses, without our people present it could have been a scene of udder chaos.