As the fifth member of her family to choose to serve her country, joining the New Zealand Army is a little like marching in to the family firm for one young Te Kuiti woman.
Sapper Mikaela Bradley, Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers, graduated from her recruit course with 113 others in Waiouru recently. She said she had wanted to step into the uniform for as long as she could remember.
Eighteen months ago her plans had to be put on hold just days before she was due to start her training, due to sickness.
But perseverance prevailed and now the 19 year-old has marched out as the top recruit in her platoon (Ngarimu VC) in the largest recruit course Waiouru has seen for many years. She is about to start her training as a firefighter.
Her father, two brothers and a sister in law have all been part of the Army family.
“I always played Army when I was little, using pieces of Dad’s uniform and his camouflage paint.”
With that heritage it would be fair to think Sapper Bradley was well prepared for her training, but even she found some elements challenging.
“Being out in the field when it’s raining isn’t always pleasant, but it’s only a small part of it,” she said.
“There’s so much more that makes those bits worthwhile.”
She said her father and her brothers gave her plenty of support during the recruit course. They knew the times that would be the most challenging and where the typical low points are.
She knows the NZ Army is actively recruiting more women and she said that the female recruits would challenge themselves to try to equal the strength and fitness levels of their male counterparts.
“We get different physical standards we have to meet, but if we could do the same as the guys we would do them.
“A few of the girls are physically strong enough to match the guys, so it encourages you to work as hard as you can,” she said.
She said it definitely took a certain type of person to join the military and it appealed to her because she was a hands-on person and wants to help people.
“I wanted the Army lifestyle too.”