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Air Force recruits back school’s core values

Air Force Recruit Course 1/24 spends a value-packed day at a local primary school.

12 April, 2024

Core values are not just for a school or the military – they’re meant to exist in everyday life.

That was the messaging for pupils of Renwick School in Marlborough, who recently welcomed around 60 personnel from Air Force Recruit Course 1/24 for several hours of activities and classroom discussion.

Renwick School’s vision statement is Learning is Strength - Be the Best You Can Be. It underpins their three ‘Rs’: Respectful, Resilience and Resourceful.

Aircraftman Jay Challenger says the visit from nearby Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Woodbourne allowed the trainees to show the pupils how similar the Air Force core values – courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity – were to theirs.

The Air Force trainees worked with the pupils around a series of outdoor challenges and obstacles, ranging from tightrope walking, an obstacle course, stretcher carries and a Physical Training circuit, encouraging them to apply their three ‘Rs’ to each challenge.

“We realised how much they looked up to and trusted us simply because of the uniform we wear. Without a second thought they would trust someone they had only just met to spot them around obstacles, stop them from falling, and carry them,” Aircraftman Challenger said.

“It demonstrated how much trust and faith even the youngest of our generation, and all civilians place in us and how important it is for us to maintain their trust so we can do our job effectively with their support.”


After the obstacle course session, the trainees engaged in classroom discussion about the school’s values and a question and answer session about the Air Force.

Aircraftman Jalesa Nomani says the children were eager for knowledge.

“They asked some very good questions about the school values and how we demonstrate those in our day-to-day lives as well as at work. Their values are very similar to ours so we had plenty to chat about.

“We talked about showing respect to our superiors and comrades, demonstrating resilience by getting up at 5.30am and ironing our bed even though none of us wants to, and resourcefulness by making do with what we have and sharing with our coursemates, like using a busted iron or swapping ration packs with your mates so everyone gets the food they like when on exercise.”

She was surprised by their maturity and knowledge. “You could see how being located close to a military base had influenced them and a lot of them aspire to join the Air Force when they grow up.”

School Principal Michelle Spencer says the trainees arrived just as the pupils were being positioned at the obstacle course stations.

“The timing of the group was impeccable, presenting themselves in a well-drilled formation, as they marched onto the school grounds.  The students acknowledged straightaway the respect, resilience and resourcefulness from the Air Force cadets which created an immediate trust between the two groups.

“Their packs were laid in neat rows as they took the opportunity to join in with the students supporting them to negotiate the different obstacles.  The atmosphere changed to include many smiles, making new friends and challenges being collaboratively achieved.

“It was a huge success and we would love to invite them back to our school again.”


She says the three ‘Rs’ have been adopted this year, and it was perfect timing to have an outside group visit and reinforce those values.

“It’s not just words to them. This is how they work, and what they do, how they wear the uniform, and how they respect each other and acknowledge each other. It showed the pupils that the values don’t just sit with Renwick School – they exist elsewhere.”

The trainees’ day included helping the Marlborough RSA with cleaning their 750 white memorial crosses in preparation for Anzac Day.

Aircraftman Challenger says it was a humbling experience, as the crosses had a lot of detail about those who had given their lives in service to their country.

“Most of them were under 25, which hit close to home for a lot of us. Each of those crosses signified a real life sacrifice. In another time it could have been one of us.”