Exercise Southern Katipo opens with ‘hui' ceremony

Exercise Southern Katipo opens with ‘hui' ceremony

New Zealand Army Cpl Tango Anderson, left, a reconnaissance detachment commander with 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, gives a safety brief for training grenades to U.S. Marines during a familiarization training in preparation for exercise Southern Katipo (SK13), aboard Linton Military Camp, Linton, New Zealand, Nov. 4, 2013. Photo by Cpl Luis A. Vega.

WAIOURU MILITARY CAMP, New Zealand (Nov. 8, 2013) - The New Zealand Defence Force welcomed coalition forces participating in exercise Southern Katipo 2013 with a ritual of the Maori Tribe aboard Waiouru military camp, New Zealand, Nov. 4.

The ritual took place at a "Marae," a tribal meeting place, and consisted of a "Hui," the ceremony. All members of the New Zealand army, regular or territorial force, serving or retired, including their families are considered Ngati Tumatauenga, or descendants of the Maori War God.

The ceremony served as the beginning of the month-long exercise between nine partnered nations: New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Kingdom of Tonga, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Australia and the United States.

The exercise is built to strengthen the interoperability skills and relationships between all participants while further developing the New Zealand Defence Force's amphibious capabilities.

Col John Howard, coalition commander of Southern Katipo 2013, welcomed each nation and mentioned his experiences working with all of them.

Howard addressed the Marine representatives personally, mentioning his work alongside Gen. James Mattis for the last two years at United States Central Command.

"You all bring some very diverse and good skills," he said. "And I'm so happy to see you here on this day."

Capt Andrew MacDougall, company commander of Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, said that every nation sang a traditional Maori song followed by their own national anthems or service songs.

While MacDougall represented the Marines Corps at the ceremony, his Marines and those participating in the exercise were training aboard Linton Military Camp.

"We started with weapons and helicopter familiarization, getting used to their different equipment and weapons systems," MacDougall said.

"We integrated in with their units so we can get some hard, set standard operating procedures for the way they do business so that when we're out in the field everything is seamless."

The Marine Corps, known for its amphibious capabilities, is always eager for training and improvement.

"We're looking at it not so much as an advisor team but more of a bilateral training exercise," MacDougall said. "It's an exchange of ideas and an exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures between peers."

Marines and members of the New Zealand Defence Force practiced loading personnel and gear in and out of helicopters, established standard operating procedures for a crash scenario and conducted weapons training with the Steyr assault rifle.

"Considering we're in a reception, staging, onward movement and integration period, we've gotten a lot done while still getting acclimatized to the region," MacDougall said.

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