Trans Tasman army cadet exchange

New Zealand Cadet Corps (NZCC) cadets and staff on the steps outside the Sydney Opera House.
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New Zealand Cadet Corps (NZCC) hosted Cadets and staff from Australia and the United Kingdom recently on a tour of the North Island.

Among the hosts were Ashburton Cadet Unit Major Cezarne Rodgers and Warrant Officer 2nd Class Brodyn Gabites.

There were 20 Cadets and 8 staff from the UK and 10 Cadets and 3 staff from Australia.

As well as visiting tourist attractions Brodyn said they visited ‘‘Waiouru Military Camp including staying on the Army Marae, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where I recited the Ode in English during the ceremony, the Anzac and Ataturk memorial in Wellington and a formal dinner at Trentham.’’

One thing Brodyn noted was that for the formal dinner ‘‘the NZ cadets dressed in their service dress, the other cadets don’t have a service dress due to the cost.’’

The Cadets and Staff (Officers) from all three countries then departed for Sydney. The New Zealand contingent comprised of 10 Cadets and four Officers. Staff Sergeant Liam Collett from Ashburton joined Cezarne and Brodyn.

For both Brodyn and Liam going through customs wasn’t plain sailing. ‘‘I got patted down because the border guards believed I have a weapon on me, and Liam managed to get his equipment swabbed for drugs,’’ Brodyn said.

A team doing the Leadership Course on Majura AFP Camp in Canberra.

On arrival they visited the Opera House and other tourist attractions in Sydney. On their travel they stayed at Army Camps.

There were many opportunities to undertake sightseeing throughout their week in Australia.

While in Cowra they visited the information site about the POW camp.

‘‘We headed to the actual site of the POW camp where the Japanese were held and escaped.

‘‘Then we travelled to a Japanese and Australian grave site where they were buried and did a small ceremony.

‘‘We then headed to Cootamundra where we had a dinner and I presented a NZCC plaque to the unit commander there,’’ Brodyn said.

While in Canberra they visited Parliament before travelling over to ANZAC Memorial Drive, ‘‘where there were huge memorials to both Australia and New Zealand in all the wars that our nations had served together in from the Boer War to the Middle East deployments,’’ Liam said.

At the Canberra War Memorial the cadets were fortunate to undertake a special remembrance by forming up along the memoria, something the general public are not allowed to do.

Cezarne said ‘‘we were formed up in front of the remembrance pools to be part of the daily Last Post Service. Four of the team laid wreaths as part of the service.

‘‘It was a very cold day and our guys, me included, were on parade for 40 minutes in polo tops.

‘‘I eventually stopped shivering mostly as I was just so cold . The other two countries had jackets as part of their uniform. Our jackets had no crest so we took them off so people would know who we were.’’

While in Canberra the cadets attended the Australian Army’s Leadership Course on Majura AFP Camp.

The cadets were broken up into four teams and ‘‘this was an opportunity for the Junior Non Commissioned officers to use their leaderships skills,’’ Liam said. They undertook physical activities.

Brodyn was bemused by the difference in safety standards, ‘‘because of one incident among cadets in the UK at some point in time, they were now required to wear helmets while undertaking these type of activities,’’ he said.

Their time in Canberra also included staying at the Royal Military College Duntroon and Australian Defence Force Academy.

The return trip through customs wasn’t without incident for Liam and Brodyn.

Brodyn found himself being patted down because of another person’s behaviour.

While Liam ‘‘ignored every single sign that says do not take your phone out in customs so of course he was trying to take photos’’.

‘‘This resulted in him getting a stern telling off by the border police and his bag being swabbed again, but this time for explosives,’’ Brodyn said.

The highlights of the trip for Liam ‘‘was making friends around the globe and having an amazing experience’’ Brodyn felt the same ‘‘and I hope I have made some life long friends.’’

This was not Cezarne first overseas trip with NZCC having gone to both Singapore and Australia before.

‘‘It was great to meet up with others I have met face to face and online.’’

While there was a grant towards costs they funded the trip themselves.

They are keen to go again on such trips as not only do you get to travel, but you meet other like minded people and form bonds.

As part of preparing to say goodbye to the other cadets ‘‘we performed the NZCF haka to the Brit and Aussie contingent,’’ Brodyn said.