Private Takurua Pou is one of 22 New Zealand Defence Force drivers sent to Antarctica in early January to help offload about 3000 tonnes of supplies for scientists working in the world’s most important natural laboratory.
31 January 2018
Takurua Pou joined the New Zealand Army five years ago with a clear goal: to follow in his father’s footsteps and make his family and friends proud of him.
“I wanted to be a role model for my family and friends. I also wanted to make my family, especially my father, proud of me,” said Private Pou, who is one of 22 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) drivers who went to Antarctica earlier this month to help offload about 3000 tonnes of supplies for scientists working in the world’s most important natural laboratory.
On the continent he drives one of the five-tonne, six-wheel-drive M-818 military trucks to deliver 20-foot to 40-foot containers filled with supplies for United States scientists at McMurdo Station. Like the rest of the NZDF’s driving team, he is working 12-hour shifts to help unload supplies brought by cargo ship MV Ocean Giant.
“I was excited when my platoon commander told me that I was going to work here. Not many people get this opportunity,” Private Pou said.
“The biggest challenge has been the weather, because temperatures can sometimes drop to as low as minus 30 degrees. We were told about the dangers of extreme temperatures before coming here, so we are prepared.”
Private Pou enlisted in the Army in June 2012 after leaving James Cook High School in Manurewa, South Auckland, where he was a deputy head boy.
“I wanted to be a rifleman or a gunner but all the places were filled during my intake. Instead of waiting another six months I decided to train as a driver and have enjoyed it ever since,” he said.
Private Pou went to Fiji in February 2016 as part of an NZDF contingent to help after the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston.
Based on Vanuabalavu Island in Fiji’s remote Lau archipelago, Private Pou delivered building material, military equipment, food and other humanitarian aid to communities damaged by the cyclone.
“The challenge for drivers like me was navigating carefully through gravel, sand, soft mud and fallen coconut trees,” he said.
“It was great to be able to help our Fijian neighbours, and to do what we as a Defence Force are trained to do.”