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East side school has helped student decide her future through Services Academy

Halle Taite-Pitama
Student Billie Rush in Services Academy uniform  Halle Pitama

Haeata Community Campus provides a military flavoured programme for students helping gain a sense of pride and life skills.

The Services Programme is supported by both the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Defence Forces Youth Developments Unit South, based at the Burnham Military Camp.   

The programme receives a grant a little under $100,000 per year which pays for the staffing involved, the uniform, the excursions they go on and anything else they may need when they are out in the field.   

Manukura (Principal) of the school Dr Peggy Burrows says the whole philosophy of the Services Academy is to create pathways that are meaningful.   

At Haeata they live and breathe by the saying 'service before self' and that is what the services academy is about.   

"They learn to rely on each other as a team, there's that real sense of belonging and real sense of purpose."  

Included in the programme, along with educational outcomes, is a strong focus on developing self-discipline, maturity, collaborative work, routine and problem solving. They also learn how to establish and maintain positive and respectful relationships with others.   

Ākonga (students) participate in their normal day to day learning in class with others as well as working alongside the Kaiārahi Ope Katua (Leader of the Defence Programme) Rawiri Waaka for academy work and activities.   

Waaka joined the army in 1997 as an infantry soldier, during his time he joined a unit called youth development South dealing with LSV's and blue light courses.   

He has been a foundation teacher at Haeata since its opening in 2017 running the Services Academy.   

He says a normal day looks like 22 Services students forming in lines checking they have the correct uniform on, inspiring them with a few words to start their day and off they go to classes.   

During academy time they work on fitness as well as their level two and three booklets, each have 24 credits attached to them. 

Haeata Services Academy students Halle Pitama

As a result of the academy, year 11 student Billie Rush says it has helped make up her mind on what her future is going to look like.  

"Before Services I was really drama centred getting in to trouble, now I'm nailing all my work trying to get through school because I realise I need school." 

Rush mentions Waaka being a huge inspiration so after school she wants to go to the army to see herself in the infantry.  

For the future of Services at Haeata Waaka and a team of teachers are building a junior programme funded by the school board. Funding will be less than $20,000 and the purpose is to grow capacity in that space, making sure students can see what it can be like meaning students may segway in to the senior academy.   

Even if they don’t they would have still had the experience of building self-esteem, skilled experienced but also fitness and healthy living. 

"If we can get our rangatahi and tamariki to do it really early it cascades into their teenage years."