It had created a “a maelstrom of political controversy”, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The fuss over the refusal to grant New Zealand ships in Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific exercises berthing rights at Pearl Harbour military base – mostly in the fulminations of the New Zealand Herald – even caught the attention of Time’s military blogger.
Poor New Zealand. Poor sailors. How will they cope with the affront?
The mental scars might be deep, but for the moment at least it seems they’re OK.
Time’s Kirk Spitzer writes:
While ships from a dozen friendly countries are berthed at crowded, attack-prone Pearl Harbour, two New Zealand warships have been assigned exclusive berthing spots at Honolulu’s lovely civilian harbour, several miles away. All by themselves …
The Kiwis’ temporary home is at the foot of historic Aloha Tower, a short walk from shopping, restaurants, bars and the kind of nighttime, personal-service entertainment long favoured by seagoing personnel.
And it sounds as though New Zealand’s sailors are making good use of those amenities.
William Cole, in a follow-up at the Star-Advertiser:
Nikol DeWoody, a bartender for Bikini Cantina at Aloha Tower Marketplace, recently received nine marriage proposals — all from New Zealand navy sailors, all on the same night.
The love-struck sailors showed up June 26, two days after the Kiwi frigate Te Kaha and tanker Endeavour tied up at Aloha Tower ahead of Rim of the Pacific exercises, and where they have remained because New Zealand navy vessels aren’t allowed in Pearl Harbour.
“When they first came (to the bar), I looked up and there were like 100 of them,” DeWoody said. “It got busy. And they are nice dudes.”
While New Zealand’s exclusion from Pearl Harbour has been the bane of some in the South Pacific island nation, it’s been a boon for business at Aloha Tower.
Hooters, not surprisingly, has seen quite a few of the New Zealand sailors. Gordon Biersch said it has experienced a 25% increase in business from RIMPAC participants, the New Zealanders included.