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LCSS McDonald at the LSV Company

Leading Combat Systems Specialist TeHuki Mc Donald, Navy Instructor
Leading Combat Systems Specialist TeHuki McDonald, Section Commander at the Limited Service Volunteer Company (OH09-0118-03)

by Sarah Chandler

LCSS TeHuki McDonald, 28, is 12 months into a two year posting at the Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) Company at Burnham camp. The LSV Company hosts five intakes of approx 150 trainees each year, and is staffed by 50% Army, 25% Navy and 25% Air Force personnel.

Aged between 18 and 25, trainees enter the LSV Company for a six week period of limited military service, the focus of which is respect for others, responsibility for themselves, building self confidence, and goal setting. The course is physically demanding and is designed to enhance an individual’s self esteem while preparing them for working life or further training.

LCSS McDonald says his job as a Section Commander and instructor at the LSV Company has been both a challenging and rewarding one: “The trainees come from different backgrounds and often arrive at the camp with various issues, including drug and alcohol problems and gang affiliations. There’s definitely a counselling aspect to my role!”

LCSS McDonald says he’s glad to be doing something outside his usual job training Navy cadets in Auckland, but being landlocked at Burnham, he still misses Navy life. He’s been in almost all RNZN ships – the old and new Canterbury, Te Kaha, Te Mana, Resolution, Wellington, and Wakakura, and is looking forward to new ships coming through. Adapting to Army life has meant “learning a new drill and getting used to living in the bush”.

Although he’s “not trying to be a recruiter”, LCSS McDonald says some trainees show they would make “awesome navy recruits” during their limited service, and he enjoys telling them about the Navy. “I tell them about Navy careers and how they differ from those in the Army. I highlight the perks of being in the Navy – the travel, the free medical and dental treatment, cheap housing, mates for life, and the sports activities”.

He thinks having instructors from all three services helps to showcase the range of opportunities for trainees considering a career in the New Zealand Defence Force: “Any force is good, at the end of the day. If you like sleeping in tents and walking in the bush with a pack on your back then the Army is for you. The Army often travel to dangerous places, while the Navy tend to travel to places like China and Australia."

LCSS McDonald says being an instructor can be tiring and it’s necessary for the LSV Company to have a reasonably regular staff turnover to keep things fresh and positive: “Sure, I get tired of working with negatives sometimes,” but, he says, the job is ultimately a rewarding one:” After six weeks in a secure and positive environment, there’s a huge change in the trainees. When they march out on the last day, they’re completely different people from when they arrived on the first.”

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