Invading the friendly way

Army visit is a 'great learning opportunity'

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014

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Students at Urenui School received a fright yesterday when they arrived at school to find the army had invaded their playground.

Three light armoured vehicles (LAVs) and 11 drivers, gunners and commanders from Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles rolled into the tiny town for a visit.

The unit spent the night at the Onaero Bay Holiday Park after heading up Surf Highway 45 from the army base at Linton, near Palmerston North, on a three-day driver training loop.

The stop in Taranaki was something of a homecoming for Sergeant Matthew Herbert, who attended Urenui Primary School about 20 years ago.

"It's changed a bit."

He had suggested the visit to the school, which was only too happy to oblige, he said.

Principal Shelley Mackay said the visit had been a great learning opportunity for the kids.

"Some of them, all they know about the army is what they see on TV and it's all war, so it was good for them to get a better idea of what our men and women do."

She said the school programme had been dropped for the morning and getting to clamber over and inside the LAVs and talk to the crewmen was an unusual experience for the pupils.

Daniel Dickson, 11, was impressed by the 16-tonne LAVs and their gun turrets.

"I liked sitting up on the top bit and they're full of stuff."

He said he had been surprised and scared to see the army when he arrived at school.

"I thought they were coming to get me." But as cool as he thought the "tanks" were, he wasn't about to be convinced to give up his dreams of being a farmer.

He said he'd rather drive a John Deere.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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