Invictus team visits Rolleston College

SPIRIT: The New Zealand Defence Force Invictus Games team visited Rolleston College on Friday. PHOTO: NZDF.

The Invictus Games is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and ill veteran and active service personnel. The New Zealand Defence Force Invictus Games team stopped by Rolleston College on Friday

The New Zealand Defence Force Invictus Games team and Rolleston College have joined forces to spread the word on the healing power of the games.

The games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate understanding and respect for wounded, injured or ill current and former servicemen and women. The NZDF is sending 25 competitors to this year’s games, being held in Sydney.

Students at Rolleston College have been studying adaptive sport, and Friday’s visit gave them a chance to hear the team’s stories and see them training.

Army Warrant Officer Class 2 Koro Hati, who won bronze in team archery at a previous Games, said team members had shared their experiences and ongoing physical and mental challenges with the students.

“They were really interested in what we had to say. It shows them that it’s not just able-bodied people that can enjoy sport. Anybody can,” Warrant Officer Hati said.

“They also learned that the most impaired person is the most able person when you’re in a chair.”

Rolleston College physical education head Andrew
Gebbie said a key part of the module had been teaching the students empathy.

“Our learners have taken on board the presentations and the values of the Invictus Games and have started to make links to our school values,” Mr Gebbie said.

“It has been a big part of this unit, having conversations about empathy and understanding. It’s so empowering for our learners to talk about the challenges that the Invictus competitors have overcome.”

Mr Gebbie said hearing from team members with mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder had been hugely important.

“It is very obvious that an amputee or someone in a wheelchair has a disability but to … talk openly about mental illness, and specifically, PTSD, was a great opportunity. This gives our learners the tools to recognise these feelings within themselves and talk openly about what was previously not spoken of.

“It has taught our learners that the greatest challenges or traumas can be overcome.”

The team visited the school on the Invictus Games’ Fly the Flag day – an event when all 18 allied nations competing in the games fly their Games’ flag. The New Zealand team left theirs with the college for students to sign and will take it with them to fly at their accommodation in Sydney.

Team manager Warrant Officer Gareth Farmer said many at the Burnham Military Camp had links to the school and the visit marked the start of an important relationship.

This year’s event will be held from October 20 to 27 and will involve 500 competitors from 18 allied nations competing in 11 different adaptive sports.

The NZDF team is sponsored by Auckland RSA, Christchurch Memorial RSA, Fulton Hogan, Jaguar/Land-Rover and Direct Sport.

•Throughout the Games the team’s journey can be followed on Facebook –, Instagram – @NZInvictusTeam or Twitter – @nzdefenceforce.