The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has scaled back a large exercise, which it runs on a regular basis, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Southern Katipo 20 (SK20) exercise was planned to be conducted by the NZDF in the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty in September and October this year involving all three services.

It has been designed as a combined joint and interagency training exercise, for which about 1,400 personnel will deploy.

However, because of the coronavirus, the NZDF will now run a series of smaller exercises in the latter part of this year instead of one large exercise. These exercises will run through to March next year to maintain readiness.

The NZDF will conduct these exercises near its camps and bases.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said during the planning stages, the NZDF had been working with several organisations in the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel regions.

Gilmour acknowledged that as the exercise could not be conducted, some organisations would be disappointed.

The NZDF is yet to make a decision on rescheduling the full exercise to a later date.

Gilmour further added: “Unfortunately disruptions to individual and collective training due to restrictions put in place in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic mean the exercise cannot go ahead in its current form. I want to thank everyone we have been working with for their efforts to date.”

Earlier this month, the NZDF signed a contractor to carry out additional clearance of five firing ranges used by its Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Bamyan province in Afghanistan.