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RAMSI policeman on peacekeeping assignment – and gains a wife

RAMSI weapons blaze

Militant arms burn in a RAMSI police blaze during a 21-day weapons amnesty in 2003. Photo: Brian HartIgan / RAMSI

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Melissa Low

When an Auckland policeman travelled on assignment to the Solomon Islands, he didn’t expect to meet his future wife.

Ian Anderson and his wife Paula are just two of the many New Zealanders who have served with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

RAMSI involves 15 countries around the Pacific region which aim to rebuild the Solomon Islands through assisting the government with legal and economic advice plus police support.

Andersons at RAMSI

Memories ... Ian and Paula Anderson at the RAMSI exhibition in Auckland. Photo: Melissa Low

In 2007, Paula Anderson was based in the Solomon Islands as a nurse, while Ian Anderson worked in a police advisory role, helping to run a station in the capital of Honiara.

Paula Anderson says they were drawn to work with RAMSI as they shared the same intention “to do something different” for the community.

The couple met at Paula Anderson’s farewell party, and despite the fleeting encounter and the distance, they continued to stay in touch while Ian Anderson was based overseas.

Now the couple have returned to relive the memories from their trip at the RAMSI exhibition, A History in Pictures, currently on display in Auckland.

Showcase for aid
The RAMSI exhibition features images that showcase the achievements of the organisation since the aid work began in 2003.

RAMSI Deputy Special Coordinator Wayne Higgins says the photo exhibition is a chance for people to reflect on the achievements and to look towards the future of the Solomon Islands, as RAMSI prepares to reduce its presence there.

“It’s time for RAMSI to take a step back, and for the Solomon Islands to take a greater lead in defining its own future.”

Ian and Paula Anderson say it is great to see the display as a reminder of their time working in the Solomon Islands.

The exhibition aims to continue touring through the associated RAMSI countries serving as an education tool for school children and families to learn more about the Pacific region. Once completed, the collection will be returned to Honiara as a gift to the people in the Solomon Islands.

The RAMSI exhibition at the Auckland Aotea Centre runs until March 29.

Melissa Low is a third-year Bachelor of Communications Studies student majoring in journalism at AUT University.