ATC stal­wart does not like fly­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Grant te Tau is not much of a flyer – which is ironic con­sid­er­ing his long ser­vice with the lo­cal Air Train­ing Corps.

The de­part­ing squadron leader of No 41 (City of Porirua) Squadron ATC did not think he would see more than 30 years in the blue uni­form but that’s how it has panned out.

‘‘ I signed up in Novem­ber, 1980. A mate of mine said ‘let’s have a look at this, we might en­joy our­selves’. He left but I stayed on.’’

As a 14-year-old back then he says he was at­tracted by the dis­ci­pline and op­por­tu­ni­ties ATC – which be­gan in World War 2 as a way to train air crew – of­fered. The bushcraft, drill, shoot­ing and mil­i­tary struc­ture ap­pealed to the teenager, at just the right time he be­lieves.

‘‘I was at a stage in my life where I was knock­ing around with the wrong peo­ple, I was close to get­ting in trou­ble. There wasn’t a lot for young peo­ple to do, so I’m glad I took the op­por­tu­nity I did.’’

The armed forces are a driver for many that join ATC, and Mr te Tau was look­ing at that route, but a build­ing ap­pren­tice­ship came up in­stead. He stayed on with ATC, how­ever, and has never re­gret­ted it.

‘‘It’s given me the chance to travel and do plenty in the out­doors. I love watch­ing the young peo­ple com­ing in with en­thu­si­asm and help­ing them learn skills and be­come lead­ers.’’

The 1980s were the ‘‘ boom pe­riod’’ for ATC in Porirua and much of New Zealand, te Tau says. At one point their mem­ber­ship topped 100 but re­mains steady around the 30 to 40 mark to­day. There are about 50 ATC squadrons around New Zealand, with cadets ide­ally join­ing when they are 13 to 15 years old.

Meet­ing once a week, there is a pa­rade, then lessons, and reg­u­lar week­end ac­tiv­i­ties in­volve tramp­ing, tar­get shoot­ing, sports and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, along with ex­pe­ri­ences in a glider, plane or helicopter. There are a num­ber of national cour­ses and over­seas events.

The corps has a con­tin­ued pres­ence at An­zac Day, Re­mem­brance Day, RSA national con­fer­ences and other civic events.

‘‘It’s a very pos­i­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion, still very valid to­day, and we al­ways push the cadets to do bet­ter.’’ There are six ATC squadrons in the Welling­ton re­gion, who have a healthy com­pet­i­tive­ness among them­selves, he says.

te Tau lived in Can­nons Creek from 1970-1995 but these days calls the Kapiti Coast home.

‘‘I’ve been ev­ery rank in ATC and was the youngest squadron leader in the lower North Is­land at one stage. I’m still pretty new com­pared to some oth­ers but about two years ago I de­cided it was time for me to move on . . .’’

The ATC vet­eran will take up a role with the Sea Cadets in Levin and thinks he may be suited to the water. Iron­i­cally, he’s never been that keen on trav­el­ling in aero­planes.

Photo: SUPPLIED.

Air to sea: Squadron Leader Grant te Tau says the skills and dis­ci­pline he learnt in the ATC held him in good stead for his work­ing life in the Cor­rec­tions in­dus­try.

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