Chairman’s Message to 2018 AGM

  Our website  has some coverage of the memorable occasion of the unveiling of an impressive monument at Laucala Bay to commemorate the Royal New Zealand Air Force flying boat era in the South Pacific.  The occasion also marked the 50th anniversary of the closing of RNZAF Station Lauthala Bay and the return to New Zealand of the last 5 Squadron Sunderland MR5. 

Over recent years 5 Squadron Associaton played a central role in bringing this event to fruition on 23 March 2018. This included arranging the supply of a Sunderland wing float for the body of the symbolic structure.   


Before he unveiled the monument Prime Minister Josiah Voreqe Bainimarama spoke warmly of his childhood memories of watching the Sunderlands, and of his warm acknowledgement of the importance of those 25 years of New Zealand’s contribution to the welfare of Fiji and its island neighbours.

Included in the 60-strong air force contingent to Fiji were 26 association members, all but myself being Laucala Bay veterans.


In related vein, the membership donated $5,000 to assist the restoration of NZ4115 at MOTAT. The aircraft is now inside the main aviation display hall on Meola Road, fully repainted, and well on the way to full refurbishment.


The association was further acknowledged during Operation Te Auraki (the Return) when I was invited to be an official witness on 7th May to the formal repatriation of the bodily remains of two servicemen who had died during service in Fiji in the 1950s.


Since the 2017 AGM 5 Squadron has had a busy and eventful year of sterling service to the country.

July 2017 saw a change of command when Wg Cdr A J Young took over from Wg Cdr D J Hunt, the latter being promoted to Base Commander of Whenuapai.  In the same month the Minister of Defence, Hon Ron Mark, presented service medals to 18 personnel at a parade in the hangar to celebrate the return from Operation Takapu deployments in the Middle East. During these deployments the squadron earned international praise for the reliabilty, efficiency and effectiveness of its tasked missions.

Its updated sensor and communications fit has proved to be second to none and has transformed the P-3K2, with its mission support, into a true multi-mission platform, readily integrating with other friendly forces.


Equipped with six aircraft and, currently, four operational crews the unit has fulfilled a wide range of tasks including regular South pacific surveillance missions, allied anti-submarine exercising out of both Australia and Guam, international liaison, and support to NZ government agencies.   In addition it trained and graduated ten more aircrew and flew 182 hours on short-notice Search and Rescue tasks.


On your behalf I thank Peter Culpan for his sterling work as our webmaster and committee members Greg Taylor, Neil Wright, Vern Reynolds, Darrell Simpson, Don Bennington, Peter Burch, John Fitch, Brian Grimwood, Grant Dowie and Des Gyde for their willing service in the association’s interests whenever called upon. Neil, Des and Grant will not be standing for re-election this year and can feel well satisfied with the contributions they have each made.


Please let me, or any committee member, know if you become aware of a past member of the squadron who is in ill health or has passed away.  And of families or surviving spouses who might appreciate a call from the association.  Our Last Post page on the website is an important record for us to try to maintain and any input to correct, or add to, the detail will be gratefully received.

And, lastly, if you do not receive your regular monthly copy of  “Air Force News”, the official magazine of the RNZAF, you may add your name to the distribution list by email to or call the editor Rebecca Quilliam on 021 653 527.




Gordon Ragg AFC JP

Chairman                                                                                27 June 2018