Dedication to Forces rewarded
The New Zealand Cadet Forces have been a part of Grant te Tau's life for 32 years.
The Levin man has been officially recognised with the presentation of a second dedicated service "clasp" to the Cadet Forces Medal he was awarded in 1996 after 12 years' qualified service. He received the first clasp to the medal for an additional eight years' service in 2004.
A squadron leader, the highest rank in the cadet forces, Mr te Tau is the training officer with Levin's "Training Ship Tutira" Sea Cadets Corps.
"Corps with no e at the end - it's not dead yet," he said.
Mr te Tau began his 32-year involvement with the cadet forces in November 1980 when he joined the Air Training Corps Kapi- Mana squadron in Porirua as a recruit.
"I didn't join because I liked planes and flying. I joined because my best friend did," he said.
Over the years he progressed through the ranks of cadet corporal, sergeant, flight sergeant, under officer, pilot officer, flying officer and flight lieutenant.
In 1994 he was appointed unit commander and in 2000 promoted to squadron leader.
In 2009, after 17 years leading the now-named Air Training Corps Porirua squadron, he relinquished command but remained a member.
Mr te Tau transferred to the T.S. Tutira Sea Cadets Corps in December 2011. This followed his move to Levin where he works as deputy registrar at the District Court, continuing his long career with the Ministry of Justice, his employer since he was aged 16.
Mr te Tau said he did not expect to be involved with the cadet forces for 32 years.
"Why I stayed was because I enjoyed the atmosphere and the structure, the camaraderie and activities we did. I learned a lot about self-discipline, gained confidence, learned the values of teamwork, and the skills of leadership and instructing.
"The standards are reasonably high, but they're obtainable. I know, because I did it. Yes, the organisation can be serious, but I've had a lot of fun along the way and I've made some good lifelong friends."
Mr te Tau said transferring to the sea cadet unit had been like a "fresh start", with activities including rifle-range shooting and bushcraft, as well as sailing and rowing.
"Boating is new to me so I'm learning again and how can I stop enjoying something when I'm learning something new?"
"Also, training officer is my favourite job in the cadet forces, because you're really working with the young people involved. I enjoy it more than being in command - now I just influence those in command."
Mr te Tau encourages any teenager to join the cadet forces, which, with annual fees of $25 , is affordable, he said.
"You even get your uniform for free. The only other place which comes to mind where you get a uniform for free is prison."
Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy presented Mr te Tau with the second clasp to his Cadet Force Medal at the Levin Sea Cadet Corps' recent annual awards ceremony.
Other awards presented included Cadet of the Year: Tyrone Bowler, Power of Command: Mikayala Madden, Most Improved Cadet: Hamish McGinty, Outstanding 1st Year Cadet: Taylor Jepson, Endeavour Award: Richard Hickson, and Top Score in Shooting: Oceay Neilson.
Lieutenant commander Allen Douglas said the awards had been earned "through hard work and determination" by the cadets.
He said Mr te Tau was a credit to himself and the organisation.