by Mike Isle
Tomorrow we commemorate those who fought and in many cases gave their lives to protect our nation and our sovereignty and those of other countries. To the forefront of that is one battalion in particular: 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment — Selwyn’s own.
Based at Burnham, the battalion has a short but illustrious history in its present configuration. Formed in 2012 through the amalgamation of 2nd Battalion (Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast) and the 4th Battalion (Otago and Southland) the battalion has already served with distinction on operational tours in Afghanistan, Korea, Timor, Iraq and Sinai.
In fact, the New Zealand Defence Force said the battalion had the highest ratio of soldiers of all NZ Army reserve units deemed to be ‘effective’ and the one with the highest level of engagement.
Nevertheless, it is not only overseas that the men and women of the battalion have proved their worth. One of their mandates is providing support to any emergency response in the lower South Island.
They were there for us in the aftermath of the earthquakes and played a pivotal role, including catering for 3,000 at a sitting. They helped fight the Port Hills fires, and they provided logistical support to community and emergency services in the wake of the mosque shootings.
So, who are these men and women?
According to the battalion’s journal: personnel range in age from 18 upwards, some have PhDs, post and undergraduate qualifications or senior qualifications across the trades.
They are highly trained, and there is a large skill-set on call for the community.
As an army reserve unit, the battalion sees itself as an integral part of the Selwyn community. It employs about 1,300 staff, most of them local. Even if they are not local, uniformed and non-uniformed staff are a common sight shopping and relaxing throughout the district.
They provide pragmatic assistance, whether it is in emergencies such as flooding, fires or rescuing snow-bound motorists. They are significant contributors to the district’s sporting codes, and their cadet, youth development and academies are doing substantial, and meaningful, work with our young people. The men and women of the 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, see themselves as very much a community battalion — our battalion. The 2nd/4th Battalion will hold its Anzac Day dawn parade and wreath laying at the Burnham Military Camp gate starting at 6am.