Hey! We were just thinking of you!

If you are 13+ or a parent/caregiver, then you have a lot of choices as to where to spend your valuable “spare” time.

So let’s tell you why 29 SQUADRON is your best choice this year:

  • Rotorua’s 29 Squadron is celebrating its 80th year this year.  We know what we’re doing.
  • We are very well staffed.  Right now, two officers, four Supplementary Staff, and seven Non Commissioned Officers teach and lead a growing group of cadets.  2021’s objective is “Growth through a packed Activity programme”.
  • Growth: 29 Squadron is projected to have six Officers by the end of the year
  • We have a licensed pilot on staff.  That means we will go flying again; including night flying.
  • One camp and two tramps are already planned for the first two terms.  The new camp site is a private bush location and will take your breath away.
  • NZQA and Duke of Edinborough qualification training starts again, and 29 Squadron work will count towards real-world credits and qualifications.  Want it?  Come get it.
  • We look forward to our service on Anzac Day for 2021.   And later in the year, the Battle of Britain commemorations and Armistice Day are similar highlights on our calendar.

Rotorua Air Cadets is a civilian youth leadership training organisation.  Families and alumni all say that time spent in Cadets has helped kids get jobs.  Their discipline, punctuality, politeness, leadership, and positive attitude stands out every time.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Standing: FGOFF Knight; Seated from left: LAC Sands, SGT Swinburne, CPL Belt, CPL Coveney, CDT Evans, LAC Morley, LAC Joy, SS Swinburne, SS Joseph, SS Morgan. Behind camera: PLTOFF Peacock, SS Belt

Before the first parade night of 2021, all officers, staff, and NCOs got together for a strategy meeting.

In front of them:  2021’s Strategic Plan, 2021 Training Program, updated Unit Standing Orders, and the opportunity to listen to FGOFF Knight and Training Officer Joseph outline the expectations for 2021.

NCOs were also told that FGOFF Knight, Mr Knight (USC Treasurer), Training Officer Joseph, and SS Belt visited a brand new camp site for 29 SQN’s exclusive use.  It has native bush, a hut, 1000 year old bore water at two degrees, and views to come back for.  The first camp (29 Below – Bushcraft) is ready to go later this term.

But before cadets even start on the first Wednesday of the first school term (Feb 3rd, 6:15 pm, 23 Geddes Rd), 29 Squadron is meeting on the weekend prior to get rid of graffiti, weeds, and old and non-serviceable gear from stores.

29 Squadron:  We fly stuff, shoot stuff, and do stuff.  Come see what it’s all about and  join us in a year that’s guaranteed to stand out as one of our best in recent history.FGOFF 

Welcome back

We hope you had a great end to 2020 and are looking forward to a somewhat normal 2021. Some of us here haven’t had much time off as a huge amount of planning has gone into this year already.  For 29 Squadron, 2021 marks it’s 80th year of operation, so that will be suitably observed.  2021 also will be the year when we switch to new uniforms. 

Everything going to plan, during this year will see 29 Squadron parade with five commissioned Officers. As every activity needs at least one present, the previous bottleneck will be removed as the year progresses.  Get ready for more activities to be available as Officers come on board. 

The Senior team are hard at work to get our first Camp in the record books:  29 Below will happen during Term 1.  As a result, an emphasis on Bush craft will be part of the Term 1 training plan.

Keep an eye on the usual communication channels: this site, Facebook, and your Syndicate leaders.  

Hope to see you all soon!

Have you been keeping an eye on Air Cadets last year thinking this may be a great way for you (or your child) to build new skills while having lots of fun?  Then you are invited to come along and check us out.  Our contact details are on the contact page and Facebook.  The start of a year is most certainly the best time to get involved!

2020 End of Year Parade – 29 Rotorua Squadron Air Training Corps

Rotorua Cadets

At the end of a year, the squadron parades in front of parents, dignitaries, and NZCF and NZDF officers to celebrate the achievements of the year.

New Cadets are inducted, promotions are announced, and various trophies and certificates acknowledging significant achievements are presented.

Area Support Officer SQNLDR Robin Peacock stands in for Area Support Officer SQNLDR Heidi Paignton. 29 Squadron is fortunate to effectively have the support of two experienced and dedicated NZCF officers

The evening also includes short speeches from invited guests.  For the first time, 29 SQN’s most senior cadet, SGT Swinburne was invited to reflect on the unit and her own progress for 2020.

SGT Swinburne

Congratulation go to LAC Joy and CPL Belt on their promotions.  Both cadets had superb attendance records in spite of a difficult year.  They also embraced every opportunity the New Zealand Cadet Forces provides. Their progress was rightfully rewarded.

CDT Joy is promoted to (Leading Air Cadet) LAC Joy in front of his peers as his parents swap out his rank slides
Mrs and Mr Belt get to change rank slides to turn LAC Belt into CPL Belt

The Unit now goes into recess until school returns in February 2021 with the exception of Supplementary Staff and officers who will meet for strategic planning and other preparation to ensure everything is ready for – what everyone hopes will be – a normal 2021 program.

29 SQN would like to thank the parents, caregivers, supporters, supplementary staff, officers, and our fans in the wider community for their support this year.

Next year beckons with a number of Sup Staff preparing to commission, take on different roles, and to support our cadets – old and new – into a fun and rewarding journey.

2021 will be extra special as we will also celebrate our 80th birthday!

29 (Rotorua) Squadron, ATC at the 2020 Final Parade at Toi Ohomai

Air Cadets round off 2020 with Rotorua Airport visit

Rotorua aviation history, a visit to the Control Tower, a hands-on demonstration of firefighting, and the chance to climb in, on, over, and inside an actual plane to see all the theory come to life was on the menu for 29 Squadron Air Cadets.


The visit started off in the new terminal to honour Rotorua’s daughter who took the aviation world by storm in the days when those sorts of things were normally left to the boys.  In the years leading up to WWII the world was enthralled by long distance and endurance flights, and a well-promoted and supported Batten was embraced by the world as one of the women of her time to achieve a number of firsts.

Next was a view of Rotorua from a point of view few of us get to enjoy:  the air traffic control tower.  Observing the communications between pilots and the tower cadets watched how an Air New Zealand flight was given clearance to land.


The firefighting crew was next to show their toys to the cadets, which included a demonstration of the water canons. Cadets also got their hands dirty up close when they were given a chance to handle other equipment.

As it got dark 29 Squadron moved to the hangars to look at some planes up close.

Under the guidance of SS Joseph, a commercial pilot himself, cadets had a chance to link classroom theory with a real aircraft.  Cockpit, control surfaces and general check and safety procedures were covered.

29 Squadron would like to thank Rotorua Airport for being fantastic hosts who were so generous with their time.  This visit will stand out in Cadet’s minds as one of the highlights of 2020.

Enjoy some more photos below.

Training Camp- at last

Units from Taupo (TCU), Rotorua (RDCU & 29 Squadron), and Opotiki (OCCU) marched into Waiotapu on Friday night to get settled for a weekend of training.

On the Saturday cadets trained on  basic map reading with a compass, First Aid, and making a stretcher in the bush.

On Sunday, all this gets put together during a Casualty Evacuation training scenario:  Cadets are given a grid reference on a map, and using a compass they are tasked to find a casualty which isn’t visible to them from their starting point.

After applying First aid, stabilising the patient, and making them as comfortable as possible, they then make a stretcher with available materials and resources on and around them.

While monitoring the patient the Cadets are then set to the task of Casualty Evacuation over unformed and rough terrain.

That may appear be a lot to ask of the average 13-year old, but cadets rise to the challenge.  This is where New Zealand Cadet Forces succeeds at training tomorrow’s leaders.

Discipline, team work, mateship, and integrity are the outcomes of our training programme, and the Cadets can’t get enough of it.

What results is the confidence in your team to do the right thing, even to the point where you commit your own welfare to others trusting them to keep you safe.  These are huge benefits to have in your skill-set while coming to grips with the world as a young adult.


It is often said for a purpose:  food makes the camp.  Good food and filled bellies are essential for everyone to be able to feel energetic and able to focus on the tasks before them.

In between training as well as morning and afternoon breaks Cadets will line up outside the mess to take on more fuel for the next part of the day.

You might wonder: “Where are the adults?  I don’t see any in the photos.”

New Zealand Cadet Forces trains kids aged 13+ to start taking on leadership roles from 15 and older.  And although adults are there to support the Cadets and to keep an eye on over-all safety and course progress, the days are essentially run by the cadets themselves.

This is what makes Cadet Forces different and much more valuable than other options.  Your kids are trained for leadership and expected to take on responsibilities as they grow and progress.

If you like the idea of Cadets, or you have some questions, please feel free to come along to one of our our Parade Nights (Wednesdays during school terms).

You can also contact us via the Contact page.

Our collective thanks go to Major Breen and the team at RDCU for being such fantastic and generous hosts.  It was great to meet old and new friends at both Taupo and Opotiki units.  Hope to meet you all soon again.

Rotorua Cadets honour Armistice Day

Rotorua District Cadet Unit and 29 (Rotorua) Squadron Air Training Corps attended the 2020 Armistice Day commemorations in Government Gardens today.

Covid robbed the community on Anzac Day in more ways than one, but today we were privileged to get together and show guests and dignitaries that Rotorua’s Cadets are committed and ever-present on important days like these.

29 Squadron’s Unit Commander FGOFF Poihaere Knight also officiated in her other role as Reverend Knight when she presented the Opening Prayer.

FGOFF Rev Poiheare Knight, 29 (Rotorua) Squadron, ATC NZCF

RDCU’s Major Breen and four of his best performed catafalque duty while the rest of his unit formed up with 29 Squadron.

On occasions like these, NZCF Officers like SQNLDR Heidi Paignton and FGOFF Poiheare Knight join veterans, dignitaries, and the cadet’s parents in being justifiably proud that our young adults step up and give the occasion the respect it deserves.

Left to right, Front:
CDT Coveney, LAC Morley, CDT Knight, SGT Swinburne, CDT Stephenson, CDT Graham, CPL Coveney
Back: CDT Van den Eng, CDT Downes, CDT Joy, LAC Sands, CDT Dhillon, LAC Belt, CDT Reid, CDT Evans

29 Squadron: very Very VERY strong!

29 Squadron ATC has a genuine WWII barrack feel to it. It should - the building is original. It wouldn't take much effort to use it as a movie set for a WWII movie

If you spend a little time looking at the walls of 29’s Unit in Rotorua, you will eventually see a number of these: XXX29XXX.  It is even found as a footer on every page of our Unit Standing Orders.  So what does it all mean?

It is borrowed from 29 Squadron RAF.  In the Royal Air Force, every squadron have their own embellishments around the roundel.  (What is a roundel?)

As you can see, No 29 Squadron R.A.F. has a three red X on either side of the roundel.   If space was limited, the XXX would appear only on one side.  And after a while, the XXX by itself was recognised as 29 Squadron.

RAF Patch Royal Air Force 29 Squadron Tornado XXX PI

At this stage, a lot of people go… “what’s with the XXX?”, and “how is that possibly related to 29?” … and “Isn’t XXX 30 in Roman numerals, not 29?”.

The rather sad thing is that it isn’t recorded why XXX was associated with 29 Squadron, but there are a number of theories as to how it came about.  One of them has been adopted as the most likely explanation, and that has become the official one.

Since the late 1920s, the squadron marking has been three (red) Xs (XXX). Since this closely resembles the Roman numeral for "29" (XXIX) there is a belief among current squadron personnel that this originated as a "misspelling" of the Roman numeral.  Although various versions of the tradition are put forward, the most common explanation is that a mis-understood instruction to ground crew to paint "2 X's in front of the roundel and IX behind it" meaning "X,X,(roundel), and 'IX' or 'one-X'" resulted in "XX(roundel)'one times' X". In fact, the marking was always applied as "XXX(roundel)XXX" or as "XXX(roundel)" on smaller types, such as Siskins.  It seems probable that the original adoption of "XXX" for the 1930s squadron marking was nothing to do with Roman numerals, but was a reference to the brewers' mark for "extra strong", frequently applied to kegs of beer, and that it is only a coincidence that this resembles the numeral for "29" (XXIX).

And XXX has been used to indicate “extra strong” in other areas of life:

Extra Strong Mints

So there you have it:  No. 29 (Rotorua) Squadron Air Training Corps: EXTRA STRONG!

This tradition traces back about 100 years, and it is good to see it continue.

Another good day out for 29 Squadron in Rotorua

After being postponed – like many other events this year – Rotorua finally managed to host the Tough Guy and Gal mud run at Lakes Ranch.  And like the years before,  29 Squadron turn up to keep competitors safe.

We get the best seats in the house watching the fit, the fun, and the fabulous step out of their comfort zones. 

As a fundraiser this is one of the highlights on our calendar with cadets looking forward to coming back the next year.

Thanks to the cadets and whanau for supporting 29 SQN on Labour Day in the middle of a long weekend.  It was a big ask and you all came through!