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Into the deep end - Karori lifeguard up for challenge as Reserve Force soldier

From standing poolside at Karori Pool to being out on exercise with his fellow Reserve Force soldiers, Private James Mallett loves to throw himself into a challenge.

02 May, 2024

He was around 12 years old when he attended his cousin’s basic training graduation parade, which ignited his own desire for a career in uniform.

“I remember thinking to myself, I'd like to do that someday.”

The Wellington-based Reserve Force soldier is now almost three years into his New Zealand Army career with 5th/7th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

When I did eventually decide to join it was because I wanted to work in a team environment and complete something I knew would be challenging.”

Embracing a team environment isn’t new for Private Mallett, who as well as juggling full-time study at Victoria University of Wellington - where he’s into his fourth year of a joint Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degree - he also works as a senior lifeguard at Wellington’s Karori Pool.

“I love working at the pool because there's a great sense of community and it's good to be able to provide people with not only the facilities we offer but also that sense of community.”

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Alongside his Reserve Force duties, Private Mallett juggles university study with working as a senior lifeguard in Wellington

Private Mallett was one of 65 Reserve Force soldiers from 5th/7th Battalion who recently took part in Exercise Takitimu in Central Hawke’s Bay, where reservists engaged in field craft, tactics, and command and control procedures as well as leadership activities.

It also acted as a lead-up exercise ahead of Exercise Tauwharenikau, which will include all of the Army’s Reserve Force units as well as reservists from the Australian Defence Force (ADF).In total there will be close to 300 reservists taking part next week in what will be the largest exercise of its kind in nearly 18 years.

“I'm looking forward to the scale of it, and I think these two elements (NZDF and ADF Reserve Forces) will make the training feel very real,” Private Mallett said.

He’s recently thrown himself into as many training opportunities as possible in order to be best prepared for Ex Tauwharenikau, and believes there will be a high expectation on everyone to perform.

“I’ve made an effort to attend every training so that I'm confident in my soldiering skills. It will also be the first large-scale combined battalion exercise I've been part of.

“By putting in the effort ahead of time to get to all of the trainings, I'm confident I'll be in a place where I can tackle whatever challenge arises when I get there.”