The Tamaupoko Community-Led Trust has joined together with the New Zealand Defence Forces this week to help 17 servicemen carry out a leadership programme.
The Aumangea programme will see service personnel of all ranks carry out service within the community including an environmental clean-up along the Whanganui River.
On Monday morning, a team of nine servicemen and their facilitators were welcomed by members of the trust and Whanganui MP Harete Hipango at the Resource Recovery Centre.
The team was then sent to a project at Waitotara to clean up a World War II monument, where the Waipapa Marae was once situated before it was moved due to flooding.
Project manager for the trust, Ramari Te Uamairangi said a local from Waitotara approached a facilitator of Aumangea that lives within the area and urged how they wanted it to be cleaned up.
"The TCLT Trust was going to be delivering some service programmes up the river. and this is the programme's week to do community service, so we basically merged them together," Ramari said.
Ramari's husband Daryn Te Uamairangi is also the chief executive of the trust and one of the key directors of Aumangea that brought the two together.
Once the monument is restored, the team will join another project tomorrow, beginning at the turn off to the river road, walking along collecting rubbish and checking and GPS marking any illegal dumping.
Another eight servicemen left in the early hours of Monday morning beginning at Pipiriki and will make their way down meeting with the other team in the middle.
"The main purpose is about strengthening the mind and using resilient tools to help make more innovative, shaper and quicker decisions in their terrain," Ramari said.
Trust member, Nihi Houia said the teams would be stopping at some of the settlements along the way and spending time with them, helping out with tasks as part of community service.
The trust focuses heavily on community-led development in four settlements up the Whanganui River, Pipirki, Jerusalem, Ranana and Matahiwi that the teams will all visit.
Ramari said Aumangea was created as there was a need for the servicemen and women to be strengthened because of the warfare terrain they work in overseas.
"It's a lot different therefore we need people with a strong, resilient mindset to cope in that warfare," Ramari said.
Aumangea is a New Zealand Army run programme delivered by The Army Depot that runs for five weeks and can include up to 24 servicemen and women from all defence forces, all who will receive a tab in honour of completion.
It is internationally recognised with four Canadian servicemen currently in the Whanganui group.
Servicemen of any rank can volunteer to apply said Te Uamairangi.
"Some say they are bored within their workspace and some want to go to the special forces and use it for that and some just want a challenge in their lives," he said.
Te Uamairangi said he was very passionate about Aumangea as it is more than just military and can help personnel to become better people.
"Whether it be a mother, aunty, uncle, husband, brother a happier, more content person at home will be more content at work, so that's the key here," Te Uamairangi said.
Aumangea has been known to help personnel reconnect and bring them closer to family members and give them a clear path of what they want to do said Ramari.
The programme is qualities based that tests soft skills, with every activity they are given, targeting a different quality.
"When they're out there serving the community they're grateful because they can see what they have versus what other people don't have," Daryn said.
The team will finish up on Friday and help to produce an environmental clean-up project plan to assist the trust with a future project.