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Air Force Officer Cadets contribute to Marlborough community

Sixteen Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) officer cadets have rolled up their sleeves to support staff and students at Marlborough’s Wairau Valley School to build a community garden and maintain the school grounds.

09 December, 2021

The officer cadets helped by marking out and preparing an area to be used as a native garden, using old vineyard posts as edges and filling the garden with topsoil. The garden will be used to teach students about the environment. The team also helped with a general tidy up of the house and grounds. 

The community work was part of Exercise Aestimatio, the final stage of the RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. The exercise put into action everything the officer cadets have learnt during the 17-week course, including military and leadership skills, while also providing support and assistance to local communities.

Officer Cadet Anthony Raccoon is one of the officer cadets who pitched in. He joined the Air Force in June and hopes to become an Engineering Officer. He first became first interested in joining during his university studies when he learnt more about the RNZAF and how it contributes to the country.

“When you’re learning how to be an Air Force officer, every day is a new day, I’ve learnt skills to manage different situations from being a leader in the workplace, to being in the field and applying that knowledge,” he said.

“I enjoyed the community engagement the most during the exercise because of being able to see the result of the team’s hard work and its effect on the school. Interacting with Wairau Valley School and having their students’ lead our team showed me how valuable it is to engage and serve the community,” Officer Cadet Raccoon added.

Air Force Officer Cadets contribute to Marlborough community

It was a memorable week for the younger generation too, as Wairau Valley School students in Years 1-8 took part in games and team-building activities run by the cadets. They also learnt about what the Air Force does and what the officer cadets will go on to do. 

Squadron Leader Lisa Eavestaff said the exercise was an important part of initial officer training, consolidating military skills, operational planning and ensuring that students were prepared and ready to integrate into RNZAF operations. The exercise itself involved more than just the community engagement, but was a key part where RNZAF could support locals.

“Unlike other exercises, Aestimatio requires the officer cadets to plan and execute every aspect of the training, from developing a general outline for the exercise and assigning roles through to writing Risk Management Plans, interacting with the community and other units, to developing a detailed plan that is presented to their chain of command for approval. This tests their leadership and ability to work together as a team,” Squadron Leader Eavestaff said.

The Officer Cadets will graduate later this month with half of the course moving onto aircrew courses. The rest will take up their first posting early next year.