Officer Cadet Martin Pope, from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Australia, is one of seven foreign Officer Cadets undertaking the rigorous 11-month officer training run by the New Zealand Army’s Officer Cadet School.
12 September 2017
The first sight of snow was just one of the challenges for seven Officer Cadets from South West Pacific countries who have been honing their skills in the field in an 11-month training programme run by the New Zealand Army’s Officer Cadet School.
The Officer Cadets are from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Singapore, Australia and Tonga.
Officer Cadet Martin Pope, from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Australia, said a pack march through snow that included being ambushed was a tough challenge.
“I’ve never walked in snow before, let alone with a backpack full of gear. We stayed outdoors for hours as we waited for the ‘enemy’ and it was pretty challenging both physically and mentally,” Officer Cadet Pope, whose father is from Hamilton in New Zealand’s Waikato region, said.
One of two cadets from Papua New Guinea, Officer Cadet Nathan Muli, who is from Enga province in the Highlands, said his journey to New Zealand in January was his first trip overseas.
“It was my first time to experience winter and to see snow,” he said.
However, his adjustment to New Zealand conditions was disrupted when the cadets went to tropical Port Moresby three weeks ago to train in jungle warfare.
As part of resilience training, he said the cadets were made to walk 120 kilometres over two weeks, carrying a 30-kilogram backpack and with limited rations and rest.
The well-maintained training facilities and supportive instructors were a stand-out for Officer Cadet Amania Kuru, one of two cadets from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
“The New Zealand cadets are very friendly and make us feel at home, and we are provided all the equipment and gear that we need,” said Officer Cadet Kuru, who is from Vanuaso Village on Fiji’s Gau Island.
Fellow Officer Cadet Aaron Chan, a combat engineer from the Singapore Armed Forces, said there was a strong sense of camaraderie among the cadets.
“Everyone is motivated to do their best and wants the entire class to succeed,” he said.
“Training in New Zealand has exposed me to a different culture, different perspective and a different way of operating. There are so many positive things that I can bring back to Singapore.”
The New Zealand Army’s officer training starts with a seven-week induction course, which teaches cadets basic military skills, including field craft, weapons handling, navigation and leadership. It is designed to produce competent leaders who can command soldiers on operations in New Zealand and overseas and runs for 11 months, with the graduation in December.
The officer training reflects the NZDF’s commitment to regional security and the protection of natural resources in the South West Pacific.
It is committed to improving social and environmental wellbeing through natural disaster response, search and rescue and through military collaborations that reinforce our strong cultural and historical ties with the countries in the region.