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Army Reserves role expands horizons for Queenstown space scholar

When Private Lyndi Le Fay isn’t studying the final frontier, she’s relishing her role as a New Zealand Army Reserve Force soldier and encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps.

25 March, 2024

Brought up in Queenstown, Private Le Fay is in her final semester at Auckland University, finishing her graduate diploma in earth sciences with a focus on space science.

She’s been a reservist with Auckland-based 3rd/6th Battalion for nearly two years, and will soon be joining the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) full time.

“Joining the Reserve Force seemed like a good option to get my foot in the door and understand how the military works,” Private Le Fay says.

It’s given me the confidence, leadership skills and the ability to do something so completely different from every day civilian life.

As well as her reservist duties, Private Le Fay is a Recruiting Ambassador for the NZDF, which sees her inspiring other young women to consider careers with the Defence Force.

She’s engaged with female high school students through the Royal New Zealand Navy’s annual School to Seas programme, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) opportunities for women in the Navy.

And last year, Private Le Fay helped run the Royal New Zealand Air Force Innovation Challenge.

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When she talks to young women about the NZDF, Private Le Fay is very open about her own experiences studying STEM subjects and being in the military.

“I didn’t have a good experience at high school, I was not one of the popular kids. I focused on my study and it has led to amazing opportunities in my personal life.

“I tell people that high school isn’t everything. What you do in your life, extracurricular-wise, academic-wise, is much more important than what people think of you.”

She said quite a few of those young people she’s met through her Recruiting Ambassador role, have since reached out to her via social media.

“A few have become Navy officers, telling me I was the reason they joined.”

Private Le Fay said on average, Reserve Force training takes up between 20 and 30 days a year.

“If you’re doing Reserve courses it can jump up a bit. This year has been different, in that I got an opportunity to be a second-in-command during a Reserves Infantry Corps Training.

“I was very privileged to do that as a private. And it’s been a bit of a running joke because I do so much more in my roles with Recruiting.”

She thinks everyone should try their hand at life in the Reserve Force, even if they are a little hesitant about joining the NZDF.

“It’s a great way to learn soft skills, like team leadership and being an efficient follower. You work with a high-performing team in stressful situations, which gives you endurance, resilience and a lot of self-confidence.

“You make new friends and have really good experiences. The opportunities are just endless.”

Private Lyndi Le Fay (back row, second from right) with fellow Senior Platoon members during Reserves Infantry Corps Training

Private Lyndi Le Fay (back row, second from right) with fellow Senior Platoon members during Reserves Infantry Corps Training

Private Le Fay said she’s very excited about joining the NZ Army Regular Force in a few months’ time.

“As it happens I come from a military family. My grandparents, cousins, uncles - there’s a lot of military history in my family.

“Reserves has given me a great start, given me skills to navigate life.

“There have been situations I have got into, where having that foundation of mental fortitude has helped me get through some tough moments when things are thrown at you.”

Interested in joining our Reserve Force?

Any Defence Recruiting enquiries can be directed to 0800 1 FORCE. Each Reserve Force company has its own training programme in line with its battalion’s training focus.

Platoon-level training takes place one night a week and company-level training typically one weekend a month.