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Waimate hosts South Island NZ Army Reserve Force competition in honour of Eric Batchelor

Soldiers of 2/4 Battalion, the South Island’s New Zealand Army Reserves unit, will be gathering in Waimate next month for a weekend of sports, community and celebration to honour a Second World War hero.

26 February, 2024

Around 150 soldiers, joined by teams from Waimate High School, Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the local Cadet Forces, will all compete for the Battalion’s Eric Batchelor Cup on Saturday 2 March.

Waimate is the birthplace of the tournament’s namesake, decorated solider Eric Batchelor, who received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar for his efforts and bravery in Italy during the Second World War.

Eric died in 2010 but his widow Thurza will be there to present the cup to the winning team.

The Eric Batchelor Cup started in 2011 and is a biennial event that brings together Reserve Forces from Nelson to Invercargill. Teams compete in a range of sporting activities including touch rugby, football, volleyball and netball at Manchester and Victoria parks.

Mayor of Waimate, Craig Rowley, will attend to officiate the tug of war competition.

The weekend will end with a ceremony at Eric Batchelor’s grave, where a wreath will be laid to pay respects to the soldier.

NZ Army reserve force soldiers play netball during the Eric Batchelor Cup competition. Black and white photo of a soldier. NZ Army reserve force take a break between games with the Eric Batchelor Cup in the foreground.

Previous Eric Batchelor Cup competitions where South Island Army Reserve Force soldiers compete in various sports (left and right), Waimate’s Eric Batchelor (middle).

Commanding Officer of 2/4 Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Seeds, said sport and healthy competition were great vehicles with which to build esprit de corps.

“Sport also tests the individual and teams right down in our fundamentals, our NZ Army core values – courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity.”

The battalion is looking forward to connecting with the Waimate and surrounding communities, especially after the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am immensely proud of our Reserves, their enthusiasm, commitment and willingness to learn is evident in everything they do,” Lieutenant Colonel Seeds said.

“One of the unique aspects of our Reserves is that they still live in the communities they volunteered from; this local knowledge proves to be invaluable when the Defence Force is asked to assist in times of need.

“It’s great to get out and get back in touch with the South Island.”

Defence Recruiting will also be at the event to talk to anyone interested in a career with the Defence Force. They will be available at Manchester Park from 9am on the Saturday.