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Leadership outfit walks in famous footsteps

DENISE PIPER
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013
Leadership Academy
DENISE PIPER
STANDING TALL: Ethan James Clark and Tahu-Potiki Tawhiwhirangi are proud to be part of the Leadership Academy of A Company, inspired by the 28 (Maori) Battalion A Company captains, pictured behind.

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Whangarei Leader

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A desire for good self-discipline inspired 15-year-old Ethan Clark to join the Leadership Academy of A Company.

He is now one of 18 new recruits in the live-in Whangarei organisation that walks in the footsteps of the 28 (Maori) Battalion A Company.

The Whangarei Boys' High School student says he's already been shown what he can achieve if he puts his mind to it.

"I went to Anzac Day last year and saw the academy marching and saw how well they stood still for hours. I saw how much discipline they had and I thought I needed it," Ethan says.

"Thanks to the academy I have more respect for people. It showed me that I can do things - if I struggle I've got to keep my mind to it and I can get there," he says.

The teenager hopes to take over the family carpentry business one day.

The change in Ethan's attitude and his focus on the future is exactly what the Leadership Academy of A Company was set up for.

It is run by He Puna Marama Trust and almost completely funded by ASB Community Trust's Maori and Pacific Education Initiative in an effort to turn around shocking educational outcomes.

Eighty one per cent of Maori boys in Whangarei failed NCEA level 1 in 2007 - a rate 1.5 times higher than Maori boys across the country and 2.25 times greater than students nationwide.

The academy started in 2010 with a small intake of 18 boys. It has grown each year since then to 43 and has already proven its worth academically.

Last year it had a 100 per cent pass rate in both NCEA level 1 and 2.

The aim is to create global leaders and a new generation of high achievers, says Cadre Anaru Kaipo, whose uncles served in A Company.

The focus is for boys to be Maori and comfortable with who they are, to be leaders - living lives of integrity, self discipline and service, and be educated. The cadets live in the academy during the week, going home for weekends and holidays, plus attending their own school and extra-curricular activities.

They have army-style discipline and must pass uniform inspections, barrack inspections and fitness training.

They eat and sleep at the Parua Bay Christian Camp, and have Maori-focused lessons at He Puna Marama's base on Lower Dent St.

The military-style discipline is one of the best things, 13-year-old Tahu-Potiki Tawhiwhirangi says.

The Whangarei Boys' High School student has represented New Zealand in baseball, and enjoys playing league and rugby union. But his ultimate aim is to join the army.

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Tahu-Potiki admits he struggles to be on time but Ethan recommends the academy for "young boys with an aim in life". "The academy shows you that you've got to start thinking now about the future and you've got to be strong as Maori. We can't end up in jail - we are the new generation."

- Whangarei Leader

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