Pic 2: BTG190421CP2 Caption: Senior Constable Wayne Churchouse gets dunked but gets even.
Pic 3: BTG190421CP3 Caption: Hauling two 4WD vehicles up Hospital Hill.
Pic 4: BTG190421CP4 Caption: Hearing about Chanuk Bair at the Cenotaph.
Pic 5: BTG190421CP5 Caption: Different reactions to carrying poles.
Pic 6: BTG190421CP6 Caption: Towing the full water tanker to the Fire Station.
Pic 7: BTG190421CP7 Caption: All over but the dinner – The Dannevirke Cactus Group 2021 outside the fire station.
Pic 8: BTG190421CP8 Performing the haka at the end of the Graduation Dinner.
By Dave Murdoch
Eight weeks of getting to school by 5.50am for training each week day concluded for 31 Dannevirke Cactus students, their dozen graduate instructors and adult staff with the Longest Day on Sunday, April 11.
Like their previous training, the day started at 5.50am with breakfast followed by 5X5 netball then drill in the DHS gymnasium before starting on the variety of activities scattered about town to test physical and mental strength and teamwork. By the end of the day the group had jogged (usually carrying gear and poles) a total of 25km.
Fire brigade and St John activities began on the DHS lower field when a fire was put out by pumping water from the Tapuata Stream, applying first aid to some St John "victims" and dunking everyone in the vicinity.
A log and equipment run down Cole St led into a two 4WD vehicle pull up Hospital St before jogging to the Mangatera Reserve, where three victims were rescued in a SARS activity.
More pole carrying was followed by a Medevac task on Tipapakuku Rd, the group returning up Riversdale Rd to a service at the Cenotaph reflecting on the experience and sacrifice of soldiers at Gallipoli.
From there they moved to Swinburn St to drag a fully laden fire tanker (weighing 20 tonnes) to the fire station.
Returning with poles to the high school, students were issued their graduation tops and dismissed to report to the REAP building for a march to the graduation dinner at the Dannevirke Services and Citizen's Club set for 4pm.
Piped in, the graduates joined more han 100 parents and family for speeches, the dinner and award presentations before a powerful haka ended the night about 7pm.
Senior Constable Wayne Churchouse, who ran the programme, said the students were awesome and he was very proud of them. Although there were 31 students from this year, they were joined by six from last year who could not have the Longest Day due to lockdown.
He said the students worked very hard and their fitness levels improved out of sight, nearly all increasing their crunches from a start of 30-50 to 130 by the end of eight weeks and times running the 2.4km circuit dramatically reduced, one student by four minutes and 20 seconds.
He said they all learnt to shut down the doubting voice and fight through the pain barrier. His slogan "Getting to the good on the inside" says it all, and was certainly exemplified on the Longest Day.
Wayne was very grateful to the volunteers who helped run the programme, especially the cooks led by Moana Beveridge and Tracy Buchanan, who provided nutritious breakfasts every weekday. "This is my happy place," said Moana on Sunday as the students approached the Cenotaph
It certainly was for the students despite the physical demands. One parent said her son, who never liked getting up in the morning, never had to be cajoled into getting to school at 5.50am. Another said their daughter's attitude to life had changed dramatically for the better. The spirit and enthusiasm never waned during the day.
Wayne said there had been some real leaders emerge over the eight weeks, particularly among the boys, but all have gained. The following words sum up the programme:
"Together we have endured
Together we have grown
Our bodies have hardened. We have endured
Our minds have sharpened. We will succeed
Our spirit has been tested. We have grown
Together we will succeed
United we stand."
Fastest RFL run time - Cameron Walker (7.56 min). Best male overall RFL result - Cameron Walker 95 per cent. Best female overall RFL result - Ella Hogan 92 per cent. Best Citizenship Award - In recognition of consistently demonstrating effort and willingness to assist the CACTUS Crew - Ella Hogan. Consistent effort and determination - William Southgate. Most overall improved – in recognition of overall improvement of all areas including; drill, fitness, confidence and leadership - Grace Reid. Golden CACTUS Award - Peer nominated award for the team member who has consistently demonstrated a positive attitude, always encouraging and motivating to the rest of the CACTUS Team and put in 100 per cent effort - Ella Hogan.
Top student of CACTUS 2021 - who consistently displayed the values of CACTUS of positive attitude, motivating others, teamwork, respect, enthusiasm, reliable, punctual, 100 per cent effort and commitment - Tama Ngatai-Ruaporo.
Top RFL Placing Results
1 Cameron Walker 95 per cent, 2 Ella Hogan 92 per cent, 3 Rico Castles 89 per cent, 4 Lane Small 87 per cent, 5 Connor Anderson 86 per cent.