To infuse with enthusiasm

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Our Unit Commander, FLTLT Poihaere Knight, has been the subject of a Profile story: “Outlining the life and times of Rotorua people from the city’s diverse community”, using quality long-form journalism that showcases the Living Taonga that are part of and energise our Rotorua community.

As No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron, ATC, we are proud and honoured to have her as our leader.

Discover, learn, and enjoy about FLTLT Poihaere Knight as you read the article and watch the video (reproduced with permission)

Childhood, teenage years

Born a country girl, her growing up was done at Manutuke 13kms inland from Gisborne. Her dad managed the engineering side of a large sheep and cattle station and her mother picked fruit and vegies in local market gardens. That was until she became the first Maori woman to be ordained in the Anglican Church’s Waiapu diocese. That her daughter would follow her into the church was a long way into the future.

When she was seven, Poihaere took up tap dancing, meeting her husband-to-be, Kurei Knight, who was a year older. What the youngsters didn’t know was that in the customary way of the older generations of Ngati Porou they’d been promised to each other at Poihaere’s birth, but left to find their destiny as teenagers.

Inspired by her father who’d been a member of the post Second World War J Force, Poihaere wanted to study Japanese at Gisborne Girls’ High but it didn’t feature in the syllabus.

She enrolled at Waikato University where it did but had to scramble to catch up with classmates well ahead of her in the language both spoken and written [brushwork]. 

She coupled her Japanese study with te reo Maori which she already spoke fluently; however when her final marks were tallied Japanese headed off te reo.

Her university time included three months on an exchange programme in Japan’s Urawa city on an intense language programme.   

After university Poihaere wasn’t done with tertiary study. She remained at Waikato for an additional year to qualify as a secondary school teacher.

Her memories of living in the uni’s Bryant Hall of Residence are those of a typical  student.

“There were 147 steps from my room to the Hillcrest Tavern. We’d go there every night for an ale or two during the happy half hour before dinner.”

Poihaere had to cut back “a bit” on her socialising when she became a hall warden during her teacher training year.

 Becoming a warden was a precursor of things to come with the ATC.



 Out in the world  



Her first year as a qualified teacher was at Ngaruawahia High School working closely with the woman she calls “the lady”. That was Maori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

Ngaruawahia High had a thriving exchange programme with a school in Japan’s Tochigi city, 140kms north of Tokyo. Poihaere applied (in Japanese script of course) and was accepted, moving there in 1993.

Initially she had to leave Kurei behind. The couple had married immediately after her graduation; naturally her mother officiated.

Some months on, his job at the Hamilton court was put on hold so he could join her.

Officially Poihaere was employed to teach English. “But I managed to convince my board of education the students should learn a bit of Maori too. It was neat to walk in town and talk to the Japanese students in te reo. I mostly taught them their pepeha [introducing their geographical heritage].

In return Poihaere immersed herself in Japanese culture.

“I think I was one of the first foreigner teachers to do that.”

 It led to  learning the complexities of how to dress in a kimono and perform Japan’s complex tea ceremony. 

“It took three years for me to become a licensed tea maker. It’s a very methodical process involving exams.

“For me the hardest part was getting up gracefully after kneeling, my legs would go numb.”

Her kapa haka experience with the poi was an unscripted bonus. “Being able to whisk the tea so vigorously with a chashaku [handmade bamboo whisk] was distinctly to my advantage. The Japanese ladies were much more gentle.”

When she and Kurei returned to New Zealand it was to Rotorua to join his Te Arawa whanau. Poihaere relieved at local secondary schools before joining Western Heights High teaching Maori, Japanese, social studies “and a bit of art”. 

She was there six years before being shoulder tapped by Te Puia.



Unexpected Motherhood, cancer homes in 

 

The Knights bought a house and focused on their careers. “We were DINKS [Double Income No Kids], we’d been told we couldn’t have children  . . . I started to feel unwell. I toddled off to the doc. She got me to do a pregnancy test, I raced down to the courthouse [Kurei’s workplace] waving the stick with two lines on it yelling “I guess we’ve proved the doctors wrong.”

Son Morgan was born in 1998. He was four when cancer announced its presence. “Yeah, it was in ‘the girls’ [breasts] The first lump was in the left one. It was the size of my closed fist.

“We tried to keep things as normal as possible for our son, make it less traumatic for him so that he wouldn’t be scared when Mum lost her hair. The most challenging part of it was making sure he was comfortable.”

Every day for six weeks Poihaere drove herself to Waikato Hospital for radiotherapy. Chemo at Rotorua Hospital followed. Administered by slow release drugs, the normally stoic Poihaere acknowledges they knocked her around. 

“That was a journey and a half, it really wrecks your body.” 

By the time son BJ (Billy-Jean) was born in 2006 she’d been declared cancer free. It was not to be. Another lump appeared ten years after the first. It was in the right breast, smaller and removed with a hook wire.

Suddenly she was back fighting the foe she believed she’d conquered.  “Round two took a bit of a toll. That went on for two years.” 

In 2019 the battle resumed when a lump reappeared in her left breast. To counter it Poihaere had a full mastectomy. “We all agreed both girls needed to become part of a rose garden under a rose called Blackberry Nip which coincidentally was my Mum’s favourite tipple before she became a minister.” 

There is only one question that can be asked. How the devil did this person with so many commitments cope with cancer’s three-peat?

 “You just carry on. If your faith is strong, your support crew are stronger, you can meet any challenge.”

For round three she was given another slow release chemical that puts the stoppers on oestrogen production.

Messing with hormones is serious stuff. Surely there must have been side effects?

“Yeah, I did become grumpy and got really bad road rage. There was a lot of that.”

With the Knights now living in Onepu, Poihaere spends considerable time behind the steering wheel. 

“It wouldn’t have been nice to be in the car with me, you’d hear me yelling and screaming, using ‘other languages’. I made sure the windows were up.”

 She found a solution. 

“I went to the cancer retreat in Taupo. They taught me to breathe, to realise the cancer wasn’t introduced, it was there all along. If I was more accepting of the fact that sometimes a cell will go rogue it wouldn’t be such a blame game, to stop [asking]  that ‘why me?’ question. One in three Maori and Pacific Island women get diagnosed with cancer all the time so okay, ‘why not me?’”



Life goes on



With only scant time off,  Poihaere continued teaching, leading the air cadets and working in unison with vicar Tom Poata at St Faith’s in Ohinemutu, the church where she was ordained seven years earlier. She received her commission four weeks later.

“That was a busy year . . . I was very green heading for Ohakea.”  

It was her mother’s death a month after Poihaere arrived in Japan that turned her  towards the ministry.

“I was already a Christian. At Mum’s funeral a matekite (prophet) said ‘one of you is going to take her place’. We thought it was our oldest sister but in Rotorua I got this feeling it was something I had to do. I broached the subject with the [then] St Faith’s vicar Darren O’Callaghan. He took me on as a lay reader then I started training for the ministry.” She now holds a Bachelor of Theology.

Pohaere’s involvement with the ATC began when her elder son joined. Being supportive parents she and Kurei attended the next AGM. 

“For a laugh I nominated him [Kurei] as treasurer; he nominated me for fundraiser. I was working at Te Puia at the time so I had contacts that meant the cadets didn’t just have to rely on sausage sizzles at Bunnings for fundraising.”

From that time on, Poihaere and the 29 Squadron have become synonymous. She’s joined cadets working towards their wings. Gliders are her aircraft of choice.

“BJ has a natural flair for flying; I don’t. I’m really bad at looking left and right. It’s the opposite to a car. The instructors keep telling me off.”

At present her focus is on more grounded matters that are the hard graft of fundraising to have the asbestos-ridden cladding on the squadron’s crumbling Geddes Road hall replaced and the building upgraded “to last another 50 years.”

It anyone is the epitome of that old maxim “if you want something done ask a busy person” it’s Poihaere Knight.

To borrow her own words, she’s someone who thrives on challenge.

“Being involved in so much can be challenging, a bit of a balancing act when there are all these different worlds I walk in. I have had to be helped on my cancer journey so I am hopeful I am able to be of some help to others.”

 
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Poihaere (Denise) Knight – the facts of her life

 

Born

Gisborne, 1966

 

Interests

Family, people. “I’m a real people person”. Karaoke, “I love karaoke with a passion, singing, playing my guitar, zumba, painting, gardening, weaving, cooking “I’m learning to make my mother’s rewena bread. I love horses; if I had the opportunity to have one I would.”   

Education

Manutuke Primary (intermediate years included), Gisborne Girls’ High, Waikato University and Teachers College, St John’s Theological College Auckland, Te Amorangi Anglican training centre, Hannahs Bay 

 

On the cadets

“Cadets is a really positive place to come, they are all genders, races, creeds. Most come shy, withdrawn. By the time they leave they can organise anything. It’s called leadership skills, being a good team player. The added bonus is learning to fly a plane. A lot can fly before they can drive.”

Family

Husband Kurei Knight, sons Morgan 22 (recently moved to Canada) , BJ (Billy-Jean) 14

 

Personal philosophy

“Let go and let God.”

 
 

* Air Training Corp

Founded in 1941, Rotorua’s ATC was established to train World War Two fighter pilots on the airfield at what’s now Fenton Park. The hangar was the cadets’ first headquarters. The biggest events on their calendar are Anzac Day when they play a prominent role at the dawn and civic services and in the Battle of Britain memorial activities each September. They care for former servicemen and women’s graves and act as marshals at various community events including the marathon and Tough Guy and Girl Challenge. Most obtain their private pilot’s licence. 

COVID-19 UPDATE FOR 29 SQN

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Kia ora 29 Squadron whanau!

As per NZCF Covid-19 Bulletin 38 released on 08 Sep 21, and a meeting of Staff, our squadron is Parading at our ATC HQ at 23 Geddes Rd from 15 SEP 21.

If any Cadet or their whanau is not comfortable returning to Parading under Level 2, they do not have to.  Please fill in a Leave form though.

Anyone who has any kind of cold or flu symptoms, even though it may not be Covid-19, MUST NOT PARADE.  Please fill in a Leave form.

Parading at Level 2 does come with a number of conditions.

What 29 Squadron Staff will do:

  • Wear our mandatory masks (Mandatory for anyone 18+, including adult Cadets)
  • Use hand sanitiser when entering and leaving rooms; entering and leaving ATC HQ.
  • Do not crowd staff rooms
  • Clean and disinfect the toilets, wash basin, and the floor before Parade, in the middle of Parade, and at the end of Parade
  • Guide all Cadets to ensure maximum physical distancing – in excess of the minimums – where possible
  • Schedule lessons that make distancing practical
  • Wipe down surfaces touched during the lesson, and any common surfaces (door handles, light switches) before leaving the room.

What Cadets need to do:

  • Keep 2m from anyone else.
  • Entry to and exit from the building is through one door only (the main door)
  • Use the provided hand sanitiser by that door before touching anything else inside the building
  • All personnel need to scan the QR code on the door (available both sides).  If unable, fill in the paper register at the door
  • You will be directed to sit in a specific spot inside the hall, which will be 2m apart from others.
  • While moving through the building, try to keep 2m from everyone else.
  • In classrooms, take a seat and do not move that seat.  It is put there to keep the minimum distance.
  • If you are 17 or younger, the wearing of a face mask is not mandatory.  The NZCF strongly encourages everyone to wear a face mask.
  • You will stay in your assigned lecture room for the night.  Instructors will move between rooms instead.
  • Bring your own mug if you would like to have a drink during break time.  Take that mug back home with you at the end of the night.
  • With the provided wipes and cleaning supplies, clean and wipe down all surfaces you sat at and/or touched before leaving for the night

We have been through this before and we all appreciated that Parading at Level 2 is better than being in Lockdown.

The exciting news is that the NZCF is also allowing Activities to resume under Level 2.  These Activities do need to be (re)approved however.  29 SQN has requested an activity for 26 SEP 21 to be approved – more information will be available soon.

Thank you all for your cooperation.  We will be back at Level 1 before we know it.

Kia ora.

Online Parades back at 29 Squadron

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Our first Online Parade night found almost everyone in good spirits.  It was good to see the resilience in our Cadets when faced with the highest level of restrictions on our daily lives.

Two Zoom sessions were held, one for Basic 1 and another for Basic 2 Cadets.  It went very well and Staff got together afterwards to commit to an even more immersive Online Parade night from next week onwards:  Three online lessons held at the same time.

Check  out the sorts of presentations that Cadets get to learn from and enjoy:

Our first Lockdown parade saw a good turnout with 18 Cadets plus Staff login in.

Not too long ago we spoke to our Cadets about the need for Flexibility and Resilience, and that was before the Lockdown happened.

We also tested our Cadets for comprehension after each lesson, and these were the top performers

29 Squadron thanks the parents and their Cadets for the support they are giving each other and our Squadron during this challenging time.

 

NOTICE: 29 SQUADRON @ COVID-19 LEVEL 4

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Tena koutou katoa

To all Officers, Staff, Cadets, Parents, Caregivers, USC members, and supporters:
 
29 Squadron will NOT parade on Wednesday nights until further notice.
 
All NZCF external activities, exercises, operations, and camps are at a minimum suspended, possibly cancelled.
 
In the words of FLTLT Knight:  
 
“We can do anything that we set our minds to.  Kia kaha.  Noho Ora mai”.
 
Keep in touch via our usual communication channels.  Ask questions of your Section leader or Staff member.
 
—-
 
More specifically:
 
  • Parade Night at 29 SQN ATC Unit is not happening 18 AUG 21
  • Zoom Parade nights may be announced starting next week.  Stay tuned to normal channels.
  • Camps that were due to take place this weekend are not happening. (Polar Bear, M*A*S*H*, Hell & Back regionally)
  • The Tough Guy/Girl aka Mud run marshalling is not happening 21 AUG 21

Keep an eye on our Social Media channels for updates.

 

Covid 19 Update 23 JUN 21

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Kia ora 29SQN whanau. Today’s Covid announcement by the Government means we will continue at LEVEL 1, which means there is no change and we will Parade tonight.

It remains a good reminder for everyone to wash and dry hands, use hand sanitiser supplied at the unit, and stay home if you are unwell. Use the website Leave form if needed.

If our alert level changes, updated information will be available here and on our Social Media.

#resilience #flexibility #relentlesspositivity

#nzcadetforces
#aircadets
#integrity
#courage
#commitment
#comradeship

Operation WiseOwl

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Credit: No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron

It was Rotorua’s turn to host RNZAF’s 14 Squadron, and the crowds certainly appreciated the mini-airshow.  

There is no expectation or obligation  to continue with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (or the Army or Navy) when you join Air Cadets, but if the NZDF is on your (or your child’s) radar, then Air Cadets is going to give you a great head start.

We meet every Wednesday night during school terms.  Contact us if you’d like to know more.

FLTLT Knight receives her rank slides

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The Unit Commander of No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron, Air Training Corps, Flight Lieutenant Poihaere Knight received  her new rank slides during a visit of the Deputy Chief of Navy Commodore Melissa Ross to Rotorua Cadets.

On the left is her son ACSS Morgan Knight, formerly a Cadet Flight Sergeant of 29 Squadron, and on her left is Commodore Ross.

The ceremony was carried out in front of Cadets and parents from RDCU, 75 Squadron, and her own unit, No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron ATC.

Also present was NZCF Area Controller CAPT Damian Bluett-Marr who listed all of FLTLT’s accomplishments as a NZCF Officer from when she was an Acting Pilot Officer not that many years ago.

As he rightfully pointed out, FLTLT’s dedication to the NZCF and 29 Squadron have been on display throughout, and the latest promotion is a well-deserved recognition for all the hard mahi put in along the way.

No. 29 Squadron is extremely proud to serve under such a well-trained, experienced, and dedicated leader.

Anzac Day preparations

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No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron Air Training Corps has a significant role to play during Anzac Day.  You will see us at the Dawn Parade, in Government Gardens near the Field of Remembrance, part of the Parade, and at the Civic Service.

Our Air Cadets have been meeting daily since Sunday and will continue to train right into Saturday night.

On Sunday we will add another chapter to our long history of serving our community around important days like Anzac Day, the Battle of Britain, and Armistice Day commemorations.

We hope to see you there.

RSA Poppy Day 2021

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After a year off due to last year’s Covid-19 lockdown, No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron Cadets had the opportunity to take to the streets and help the Rotorua RSA with Poppy Day.

We were proud to collect $1,600 for a good cause, and it got everyone in the right mindset for next week when we will perform ceremonial duties at Ohinemutu’s Dawn Parade as well as the Government Gardens Cenotaph and at the Civic Service inside the Sportsdrome.

Back L2R: FLTLT Knight, CDT Davies, CDT Stephenson, CDT van den Eng, LAC Sands, LAC Joy, CDT Downes. Front L2R: CDT Beehre, CDT Morgan, CDT Robinson, CDT Frost, CDT Torrington, CDT Coveney, SGT Coveney