Education · 11 Apr 2021

Graduation Day for CACTUS Group (watch video)

Aimee Wilson

Aimee Wilson


It’s not everyday you see fire engines being towed down the main street of Invercargill.

The exhibition from CACTUS involved 23 students and support people as part of a programme run out of Te Whare Kura o Arowhenua, in conjunction with the youth services team at Invercargill Police.

CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Cadet Training Unit and Support) is a programme of physical training developed from the Armed Forces programme.

It is designed to extend a young person’s mind and physical capability. The course runs for eight weeks, with three one hour training sessions per week (beginning at 6.30am) of progressively harder physical routines.

Today was graduation day and started with a run up Stirling Point at 6am, another run at Sandy Point carrying logs along the sand dunes, and was meant to include a Unimog Challenge, but it broke down and so fire engines were used instead.

Invercargill Police youth services team member Michelle Lee said as well as the hard fitness the group also had the opportunity to play squash and try out the climbing wall. 

She said it was great to see how fit the group had become over the eight weeks, with only two pulling out early on.

“The rest were dedicated and committed to the course the whole way through,” she said.

 The programme also includes career education, motivational speakers and mentoring with a view to having youth actualise their potential. CACTUS aims to grow and develop the skills and attitudes young people need to take part in society, now and in the future.

The eight week programme gets progressively more physically demanding – finishing with today’s graduation day which is aptly named “The Longest Day”. 

During “The Longest Day” young people achieve physical goals as individuals and as team members. In the process they build team cohesion and spirit and an awareness of outdoor pursuits.

The CACTUS programme was funded by the Invercargill Licensing Trust and graduates are enjoying a celebration dinner at the Ascot Park Hotel this evening.