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Invercargill Constable juggles Army Reserves and Police to full effect

Lance Corporal Patrick Read is used to serving the community in his civilian life as a constable with the New Zealand Police in Invercargill, but he’s also into his seventh year with the Army Reserve Force and said he’s continuing to reap the benefits.

06 March, 2024

“When I joined, I didn’t want to just trade my time for money, I wanted to be part of a profession that offered personal and professional development, which would contribute positively to others and could be done in addition to my civilian career.

“The Army Reserves seemed to be the perfect choice at that time and has remained the perfect choice, even as my personal and professional life outside the Army have evolved and changed.”

His role with the Army saw him travel to Waimate last weekend to compete in the Eric Batchelor Cup, a sports tournament to celebrate its namesake - the late war hero and Waimate local.

Batchelor received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar for his efforts and bravery in Italy during the Second World War. Eric died in 2010.

Lance Corporal Read said he was surprised to see how many people from the local community came out to support, including teams from the Waimate High School, Waimate Rugby and Football Club and Cadet Forces.

“I’m used to events just including soldiers, so it is pretty rare to see the community get involved on this scale, especially with so many of us from the battalion together,” he said. 

The Batchelor family was also there to support, with Lance Corporal Read saying it was special to perform the haka at Eric’s grave with his widow Thurza present.

Lance Corporal Read signed up with the Reserve Force in 2017, attended basic training that summer and has been posted to 2nd/4th Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (2/4 RNZIR) since February 2018.

He was initially based in Dunedin but a trip with the Army Reserves to Invercargill was the catalyst for a career move to the deep south for Lance Corporal Read.

“The first time I visited Invercargill as an adult was to compete in a skill-at-arms competition with the unit. That experience helped me decide to move down here for work.”

There, he juggles the life of a police constable with being a Reserve Force soldier and said both complemented each other.

“In both roles, I often find myself in a position where I can add value based on the skills, knowledge and experience that I have gained through the other job.” 

In his years with the unit so far, Lance Corporal Read has experienced a wide variety of what a life in the Reserves has to offer. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in many experiences that can’t be had outside the Army.

“They include 2/4 RNZIR battalion exercises on the West Coast, joining Regular Force exercises all over the country, competing in Army skill-at-arms competitions in Linton, attending courses in Burnham and training new Army Reserve soldiers in Waiouru.”

He said activities in Waiouru had ranged from digging holes in the Central Plateau to using machine guns, grenade launchers and recoilless rifles and patrolling the West Coast bush with a section of soldiers.

Lance Corporal Read’s also performed ceremonial duties on Anzac Day and represented the Army at community events and has made great friendships along the way.

“It is always awesome to see so many people from such diverse backgrounds, who all have significant other commitments, come together and excel in what is asked of them. 

“I have met and become great mates with people who I may never have met otherwise.”

He praised the senior leadership at NZ Police for allowing him the flexibility to attend exercises and training courses, and said his colleagues deserve a special mention, many of whom have covered his shifts so that he can attend various training opportunities.

“The courses I have been on have taught me a lot about myself, teamwork and leadership, which have helped me a great deal in my personal and professional life outside the Army.”

He said anybody thinking of joining the Army Reserves should “make your application today”.

“Even if you are apprehensive or uncertain, start going to your local Army Hall so that you can meet the soldiers and get involved in training.

“The soldiers will welcome you to their units and be able to answer any questions you may have about what the Army Reserves has to offer.”

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.