New book aimed at military children

Rochelle Hutson reads David Hill's new book, So Special, to her 4-year-old son, Nathan.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Rochelle Hutson reads David Hill's new book, So Special, to her 4-year-old son, Nathan.

Military parents have a new resource in their arsenal to help explain overseas deployments to their children.

The book, So Special, written by David Hill, was unveiled at Linton Military Camp's Manawatū Wellness Expo at Linton on Thursday.

Developed by the New Zealand Defence Force's psychology department, the book follows a young boy named Oscar, whose dad is on deployment overseas. It has also been translated into te reo Māori

Former professional rugby league footballer Ruben Wiki, ONZM, was also at the wellness expo speaking to soldiers.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Former professional rugby league footballer Ruben Wiki, ONZM, was also at the wellness expo speaking to soldiers.

Hill did a reading at the expo to 80 pupils from Linton School, but before he began, he asked for a show of hands from the children who had parents overseas. 

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Almost every child in the room put up their hand.

"I was startled and moved," Hill said.

Phoenix Harvie, 11, head boy at Linton School, said the book was cool.

While his father had not yet deployed, the book would help him support his friends.

"Sometimes they get a bit sad. I try to cheer them up."

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Mum Rochelle Hutson, who attend the expo, said the book was a great tool for parents. 

Her husband had just got back from a deployment to Egypt and she said it was hard to find resources for children, particularly those written in New Zealand.

"This is better, more relatable." 

The book also helped reinforce messages parents gave.

"You tell them 'it's OK to feel sad, it's OK to be angry', but to be able to say 'other people would feel the same' is great."

The expo also featured Ruben Wiki as a guest speaker, who spoke to soldiers about leadership and "looking after your mates".

Wiki said at one point in his life, he almost joined the military, spending only a weekend away before deciding footy was more for him.

The former professional rugby league footballer said team sport and the military had similarities and it was good to talk to soldiers about being open with their issues. 

 - Stuff

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