RSM comes ‘home’

by Mike Isle

A 30-year army veteran is now the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 2/1 Battalion stationed at Burnham Military Camp, and for Warrant Officer Class One, Wayne Nepia, it is something of a return home.

Although born and educated in Waiuku just south of Auckland, Wayne Nepia says he has a special affinity with Burnham and the Selwyn district.

Between numerous overseas deployments, he has served at Burnham several times — first as a private soldier through to warrant officer and now as a regimental sergeant major.

It is not just the army life that draws him to the district. It is his staunch involvement and support for local rugby.

“I have been involved in rugby coaching with Burnham Rugby Club from 2009 to 2013 and coached senior rugby at Burnham Dunsandel Irwell when the clubs merged.

“An overseas deployment put a temporary stop to that — but now that I am back, I intend to resume coaching next season,” he said.

Overseas postings have played a big part in Wayne’s life. He has served with distinction in Cyprus, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and East Timor.

His decorations include the NZ Operational Service Medal, the East Timor Service Medal, the United Nations Medal East Timor and in 2002 the Long Service Good Conduct Medal. Over the years, he has served in the battalion as section commander, platoon sergeant, quartermaster sergeant and company sergeant major.

In December 2009, Wayne achieved the rank of warrant officer class two and in December 2014 was promoted to warrant officer class one.