The Army experience of Major (retired) Tania Good at Murray Halberg Retirement Village’s special ANZAC commemoration offered a unique perspective for residents last Friday.
Now District Support Manager for the Returned Services Association in Auckland, Tania transfixed the residents with her often amusing and sometimes sobering life stories from her 20 years in the NZ Army.
After leaving school in Kaitaia, she said her career choices back in 1988 included farming, growing or selling drugs or getting pregnant, none of which really appealed.
So she looked at the police – but she was too short, she looked at being a helicopter pilot – but she was too female, and finally she landed on the army.
With a strong military background in her family, it felt right and she joined the Medical Corps to train as a medic, later posting to the first Royal Infantry Regiment. Being in this unit gave her a different relationship with soldiers and officers.
“They only come and see you when they’re sick and when they need you. As a result of that, you have a different relationship because they’re vulnerable,” she said.
“So you have to have not only the skills in your trade, but you also need to have compassion and understanding as well.”
Tania Good shared life stories from her 20 year Army career.
It was unusual for a female to be posted to an all male combat unit such as the Royal Infantry Regiment.
“A lot of people thought I would find it difficult, being a female. But as long as you knew what your role was, and you were good at your job, they showed you the respect you deserved just like any other soldier wearing a uniform.”
Tania said she didn’t need to act like a man, she could be herself.
“That was one of the most important things I learned from these gentlemen. In fact I would say that a lot of them are closer to me than my blood brother, and one of them is actually my son’s godfather.”
Serving with this battalion gave Tania the maturity and skills in life experiences to apply for officer training for a second time and this time she graduated as Second Lieutenant King.
She went on to share several life-shaping experiences, including being responsible for the lives of 270 people during the Mt Ruapehu volcanic ash eruptions and her deployment to Bosnia in 2001 and seeing the scars of war all around and nearly becoming a casualty herself.
“You don’t realise what you have here at home until you experience another life.”
Coming home via the USA in the aftermath of 9/11 and be met by armed guards side by side down the runway was another sharp contrast.
“It was quite a disconcerting feeling for a person who’s just spent six months with a firearm at their side, standing on that side of the line to then walk through armed guards, with nothing but the clothes on your back and your wallet.
“It’s not something you like to remember, but it is definitely something that you won’t forget.”
Resident Errol Burtenshaw with Group CEO Richard Umbers.
Ryman Healthcare Group CEO Richard Umbers joined resident Errol Burtenshaw to lay the wreath while John Mawdsley played the Last Post before a minute’s silence was held.
The village choir did the residents proud with a great rendition of the National Anthem before Village Manager Greg Barclay closed the ceremony.
He thanked resident Ray McDonald for sharing the meaning of ANZAC and Ruth Eichler and Bill Butler for the opening prayer and scripture reading.
The Murray Halberg village choir.