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Alumni Luncheon To Celebrate 150 Years Of NZ Cadet Forces

Alumni Luncheon To Celebrate 150 Years Of NZ Cadet Forces

ATC cadets and former cadets of all ages have been invited to a 150 year reunion
luncheon at the Dargaville Aero Club next month.

The New Zealand Cadet Forces is celebrating its 150th birthday this year with events being scheduled up and down the country.

The first cadet unit was formed in Dunedin High School (now Otago Boys High School) in 1864 and by 1870 there were several including units in Nelson College, Christ’s College, Wellington College and Auckland Grammar.

The national spread of cadet forces didn't begin until 1902, and the army got involved after the Boer War and the New Zealand armed forces started supplying uniforms, rifles and other equipment from 1911.

Since the service's inception in 1902 becoming a cadet has been at times voluntary, and at times compulsory with it being compulsory for all 14 – 21 year old males required to take part in cadet training between 1919 and 1932.

Records indicate a cadet unit was operating in Te Kopuru in 1904 but this eventually disbanded and the Northern Wairoa squadron was formed in 1941 by Alwyn White and has paraded continuously since, helping in community and taking part in training with a military flavour.

Cadets from the 57 squadron provide honor guards for visiting and local dignitaries, play a big part in Anzac day celebrations. In the past the squadron. also organized Naatex, a week-long Northland and Auckland Cadet Forces camp, held in Mamaranui the early 1908’s to late 1990’s drawing 200 attendees and armed forces personnel at its peak.

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While activities have been planned to celebrate the event, 57 Squadron unit commander Barbara Gillatt says the first thing the unit wants to do is to organise a lunch where current and former cadets can meet and compare experiences they shared while in the unit. “Cadet forces have changed so much in the last 150 years it would be fantastic to learn about everything from the format of old parades cadets took part in, the uniforms they wore and the types of activities they did,” says Gillatt. “These types of details are at risk of being lost to history and it'd be great to preserve them.”

Cadets will record conversations with ex cadets for posterity with Gillatt hoping to see any ex cadets aged from twenty to eighty attend.

She says the luncheon will be held at the Dargaville Aero Club on October 26, and requests reservations are made to plan for catering.

“While we realise it is short notice it would be fantastic to catch up with ex cadets,” says Gillatt. “If there is enough interest we will organise another get together a bit later in the new year.”

For more information, or to make a reservation call Barbara Gillatt on 09 439 5904 or visit

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