Army cadets practise their peacekeeping
To passers-by it could have been mistaken for an invasion.
For the past two weeks the New Zealand Army has been in Mangakino conducting a mock peacekeeping mission as part of its training.
The exercise involved 42 Cadet students from Waiouru Army Camp participating in a complex peace-keeping scenario. It was the first such event the cadets had been involved in.
New Zealand Army education officer Paul Garner said the scenario was controlled by officials in an operations hub on Depot Rd.
‘‘The concept is like a Lebanon and Israel-type of conflict,’’ Mr Garner said.
‘‘The concept is that there is Auckstan up the north, we are in a country called King Country and down south is Wellystan.
‘‘ The United Nations have approved a peace-keeping mission to separate Auckstan from King Country.’’
The cadets arrived in Mangakino almost two weeks ago and left on Sunday.
The cadets are on a one-year training course and this exercise was one of the assessments they had to pass.
Mr Garner said a media team followed the soldiers, recording every event to show how they interact with the media and how situations are reported.
‘‘The guys have found it quite stressful even though they have been taught a lot and trained, it is just such a new environment. For them to be in public around people while they are holding their guns is new to them.
‘‘The purpose is to assess the officer cadets in their command ability and in a complex urban environment.’’
Role players were also involved including members of the community and army officials who had been living in the town for three weeks.
In order for cadets to gather information, street patrols were performed with soldiers walking around the neighbourhood at night.
The exercise in Mangakino has been occurring for eight years.
The mission ended on Sunday.
STANDING GUARD: Officer Cadet Christian Jacobsen, 20, commands his post during a training operations exercise in Mangakino.