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Taupō Army Cadets eyes the sky after groundwork

Taupō’s Megan Harris is no stranger to military hardware on the ground but now has her eyes firmly fixed on the sky as she looks to a future with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

09 April, 2021

The 15-year-old Year 11 Tauhara College student is a lance corporal with the Taupō Cadet Unit of the New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF), having joined two-and-a-half years ago.

Recently she spent two days at Linton Military Camp in Manawatū with 74 other cadets, getting an inside look at life in the New Zealand Army.

Getting exposure to members of the NZ Army Emergency Response Team, Infantry, Intelligence Corps and specialist officers gave the cadets an understanding of the depth and range of career opportunities available.

Under strict supervision by New Zealand Army soldiers, and in a controlled environment, they got the opportunity to shoot the NZDF’s MARS-L rifle.

Last year she attended Exercise Cadet 2020 in Waiouru, where 1000 cadets, plus a large contingent of cadet officers and support staff, gathered for several days of activities.

While Cadet Lance Corporal Harris’ feet are firmly on the ground, her heart, it appears, is in the sky. During the 2020 exercise she chose the Air elective with its Royal New Zealand Air Force-themed activities.

“It gave me a chance to see RNZAF Base Ohakea. We were able to see No. 3 Squadron and No. 14 Squadron behind the scenes and now I want to be either a pilot, air warfare officer or helicopter loadmaster.”

NZCF Central Area Coordinator, Captain Roger Baxter, said Cadet Lance Corporal Harris’ story was quite typical.

“Often a cadet joins to get an understanding of military life. The Cadet unit they join may not be the service they aspire to but they can get a chance to see career opportunities they may not know are open to them.”

Cadent Lance Corporal Harris will next return to Ohakea at the end of April for a nine-day course, where 40 cadets will learn how to take drill lessons, basic functional leadership skills, public speaking and experience life on an NZDF operational base.

NZCF is made up of 98 Navy, Army and Air Cadet units around the country. About 3000 people, aged 13-19, and 400 Cadet Officers take part.