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Training hard for the future

Military drills, diving into freezing rivers and ironing are skills learned at the Mākoura College Services Academy, with students topping their region’s tough courses.

The Services Academies programme is run in secondary schools in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Defence Force.

The aim is to support future pathways for students through improvement of NCEA qualifications and development of leadership and life skills.

Mākoura College in Masterton has Wairarapa’s only Services Academy, where students strive for physical and mental improvement.

Year 12 student Sicarius Taylor was selected as the top student from 240 Central North Island participants at an Advanced Leaders [AL] Course at Ohakea Air Base this month.

Fellow Mākoura Year 12 student Motu-Waireka Rawiri – the other Mākoura student selected for the AL course – graduated with Sicarius at a special ceremony.

There are currently 17 students in the Mākoura academy, working under the guidance of course director Steve Jar. They train hard at school twice a week, on top of sporting commitments and other areas of school and home life.

“The Services Academy helps us better ourselves,” Sicarius said. “We go through some military training, which includes physical and mental exercise, we learn how to keep our personal standards up, so our clothes are neat, our room is neat and we are organised.”

This year, academy students began with a two-week Induction Course at Waiouru Military Base.

“The scariest challenge was the day we arrived,” Motu-Waireka said. “We were on the bus and you get yelled at to go from Point A to Point B and empty out your bags in a certain amount of time. I was shaking – but it wasn’t that bad.”

Sicarius agreed: ”The hardest part was the first two days of induction because you don’t know what to expect.”

Motu-Waireka said the group learned new skills and were pushed to complete challenges.

“I learnt how to iron my clothes properly because the navy is pretty precise on how thing are done,” she said. The hardest part for her “was leaving at the end and saying goodbye to the people we met”.

“The hardest part for me was diving into a freezing river as part of the assault course,” Sicarius said.

Motu-Waireka ended the induction with the fastest Required Fitness Level [RFL] for females, which included a 2.4km run, push-ups, curl-ups and a 4.2km cross country run.

Both agreed the food at Waiouru was great. “Breakfast was five-star – bacon, eggs, hash browns, baked beans, spaghetti, toast, cereal, yoghurt,” Motu-Waireka said.

There were curries, lasagne, burgers and nachos for dinner, with cut lunches including peanuts, popcorn, juices, chips, a sandwich and beef jerky.

The Mākoura academy won two additional trophies, one for drills and one for the ‘Longest Day’ which involved starting at 5am with a drill, lifting weights, running up and around a hill, then back to rugby field for activities until about 8pm, dinner, then two more hours until showers.

At induction, five people from each academy were chosen for a Basic Leaders course and two went on to the AL course at Ohakea – where Sicarius stood out from students from 11 other academies.

“They look at people across the year, how they present themselves, how they treat everyone, from supervisors down to trainees. I couldn’t have done that without the support of my [Mākoura] academy. They pushed me to go for that award,” he said.

“The Services Academy is good for learning what is expected of people who enter the Defence Force – some find it’s not for them, which is fine.”

Both Sicarius and Motu-Waireka hope to enter the Navy after completing school.

Motu-Waireka is one of two females in the Mākoura academy: “It’s actually alright. But we don’t get special treatment.”

The outstanding pair enjoy training at school, even in cold weather.

“It’s actually pretty nice training in the cold,” Sicarius said. “I don’t like the heat during training.”

Motu-Waireka added: “On the AL course, we had thunder and lightning but [the course leaders] didn’t care.”

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