Topic: NZ Defence Force - Te Ope Kātua

Māori soldier says with training deployed soldiers could avoid danger

By Ripeka Timutimu

Despite the recent backlash to send New Zealand troops to Iraq, one Māori soldier says with the right training, danger could be avoided. Major John Cook spoke to Te Kāea today about his experiences as a soldier.

It's not a path many take, but Major John Cook wouldn't have it any other way.

“It's not the front line but in warfare today it’s not just on the frontline, it’s also back where the support elements are, so the danger is very real,” says Cook.

A career spanning 18 years in the New Zealand Army in army logistics, Cook has seen his fair share of the world.

“I've done exercises in pacific and Australia and in terms of operational exercises I’ve spent time in Sinai in Egypt and Afghanistan, they were six months long,” says Cook.

Cook grew up in the small town of Te Araroa, and one of his ancestors was a part of the C Company in the 28th Māori Battalion. He says working in another country isn't always the easiest.

“The key part to it is the reason we're there and that’s communicated to the host nation, why we're coming in,” Cook says.

This week has seen huge opposition to John Key's decision to send New Zealand personnel to Iraq. But Cook says, in his years of experience, he's always been safe overseas.

Cook says, “I'm really confident that when we go overseas wherever we do go our training and our equipment will help us survive and deal.”