Tekapo locals host Gurkha soldiers


by Chris Tobin

Gurkha soldiers will get some Kiwi hospitality at a special function in the Tekapo Community Hall tomorrow evening.

A force of 170 Gurkha soldiers has been been training at the Tekapo military camp in in a seven-week exercise called Pacific Khukri 18.

“They are serving in the United Kingdom Brunei Resident Infantry Battalion,” NZ Defence Force spokesman Phil Murray said.

“Their training is being supported by 16 New Zealand Defence Force soldiers. It is an annual exercise, alternating between New Zealand and Australia.”

But tomorrow evening the soldiers will have the chance to relax at a function being organised by Tekapo locals, Penny and Isaac Wilson, who have a strong connection to Nepal.

“We ran a similar function two years ago, not long after the big earthquake in Nepal,” Mrs Wilson said. “The community hall was packed.”

Mrs Wilson and her husband established the Ankuro Community Development Trust to support sustainable community development projects in Nepal, as well as in New Zealand.

Ankuro means “seedling” in Nepali.

Based in Khahare village in the Kathmandu Valley, the Ankuro project worked in partnership with the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation to ensure communities gained access to safe water, food, education and recreational pursuits.

Support was given for the initial “planting” phase of the project and then taken up by the local community.

The village has established an orphanage and kindergarten, helped women into employment and trained villagers from throughout Nepal on sustainable farming and building techniques.

Mrs Wilson said her husband and three children, aged from five to 10, were looking forward to travelling to Nepal in several weeks’ time.

“The children have been fundraising to take things; they’re very excited.”

Tomorrow evening’s function is being arranged with support from the Ghurkas with their chefs preparing some of the food.

Money raised from the evening will go towards supporting Ankuro as well as the Royal Ghurka Welfare Trust which assists with community developments in Nepal and supports former Gurkha soldiers.

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