Canadian Army takes top honour in New Zealand resilience challenge

Article / April 6, 2020 / Project number: 20-0053

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Warrant Officer Etienne Guerin, with 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, not only completed the Aumangea Programme this past February, but was named Top Volunteer - a title given by both program staff and the other soldiers participating.

Aumangea events have been held three times a year for the past decade, explained Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Johno Stevens, who coordinates the program for the New Zealand Army.

Aumangea is an adjective in the language of New Zealand’s Maori people, meaning strong, brave, persistent, determined, forceful, plucky, resilient, resolute, steadfast and tenacious.

Canadians have won the Top Volunteer title on five occasions, Stevens added. There were just 24 spots in the latest program, and organizers received 45 nominations from Canada and the New Zealand Defence Force. Four Canadians took part.

The program places participants in difficult environments for 33 days, with limited tools to test their physical and mental resilience, and familiarizes them with aspects of Maori warrior culture.

This, explained WO2 Stevens, can include everything from long pack-marches to close-quarters combat and amphibious operations.

“The Aumangea Programme is built on the unknown for the candidates so that they never understand what is coming next,” he added.

Organizers are vague about many of the details in order to ensure participants are always challenged, WO2 Stevens noted.

“They will not know for how far, or how long. And no course is ever the same. Throughout all phases of the program, food and sleep are limited and monitored -- all designed to build a more resilient warrior.”

WO Guerin and the other successful participants were given congratulations during a ceremony in which they received Aumangea tabs for their uniforms.

“Your growth in character is measured by what you do after graduation and wearing the Aumangea Tab,” said Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Clive Douglas, Sergeant Major of the New Zealand Army. “I know you will inspire others to continue to grow in the profession of arms.”

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