Corporal Georgette Kalorip, a member of the VMF band, is attending a musician’s course with the New Zealand Army Band School of Music, funded by the Mutual Assistance Programme.


Whether in the heat of her homeland of Vanuatu or in the chill air of New Zealand’s south island, the tenor horn still sounds the same and connects people for Corporal Georgette Kalorip.

A member of the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) band, Corporal Kalorip is in New Zealand for nine months attending a musician’s course with the New Zealand Army Band School of Music, funded by the Mutual Assistance Programme (MAP).

Alongside her fellow students from Fiji, Malaysia, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Tonga, Corporal Kalorip is training at the Army’s School of Music at Burnham Military Camp.

Coming from Ifira, an island just outside the capital city of Port Vila, Corporal Kalorip has been in the VMF for five years. She also has cousins and an uncle serving.

The VMF, which is made up of volunteers, is a component of the Vanuatu Police Force and works with a range of partners — including Australia and New Zealand — to contribute to Vanuatu’s broader security. Members of the VMF are also primary responders in areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Corporal Kalorip said she joined the VMF to serve her country, and it had provided her with opportunities to see more of her own homeland and to travel overseas.

“I’ve been able to travel to other islands in Vanuatu that I’ve never been to, and also visited New Zealand in 2021, representing Vanuatu in Defence Rugby.

“I’m enjoying being able to have a look around the wider Canterbury area. I love the food and the people are so kind.” The MAP is one of the key elements of Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to peace and security in the region, significantly helping to foster strong and enduring people-to-people links over many decades.

Through the programme, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) supports capacity building and training for South Pacific and, to a limited degree, South East Asian security and defence forces.

Staff Sergeant Phil Johnston, the Senior Instructor at the NZ Army School of Music, said it was an absolute pleasure to work with the MAP students.

“It’s rewarding seeing them develop over the nine months they are on the course. The students are extremely diligent and very hardworking, and all are excellent ambassadors for their countries,” he said.

“Corporal Kalorip was selected to attend the 2024 course as she is a very intelligent individual who picks up new things extremely quickly. I can already see the influence she has on other course members, helping them out with their studies.”

Staff Sergeant Johnston said after they complete the course, students would depart with a higher level of musical knowledge and skill that they can share with their fellow bandmates when they return home.

“It’s always a thrill to see former students performing with their bands. No matter where they’re from, we’re all connected through music.”

The NZDF’s Mutual Assistance Training Teams provide instructional support and/or specialist training to the militaries of Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, and to the VMF.

NZDF courses are also offered to members of military and police forces, covering professional development, commissioning and particular trades or skills.

From time to time the programme also provides equipment to support military or security forces within the South Pacific.