Fitters and Turners getting worse

During my short time wearing camo and carting machine-guns around the wastes of Waiouru we call the cooks that served up the “food” on base “Fitters and Turners”.

They fit food into pots and turned it into shit.

Seems they are getting worse.

A former soldier and SAS member says food served at the Waiouru Army camp was so bad, he and fellow soldiers broke the rules to cook their own food in their barracks.

Earlier this week APNZ reported some Defence Force troops based at the camp were so frustrated by “disgusting” meals they set up a Facebook page to highlight what they’re served.

The page, titled ‘Waiouru’s delectable delights’, has now been taken down from the social network website, but it showed pre-packaged meals with stews and mashed foods and one soup that appeared to be vegetables immersed in a watery liquid. 

Mike Ledingham, who served served as a corporal in the army infantry and as an SAS soldier between 1970 and 1985, said during his time it was well-known that if troops were eating at Waiouru, they would normally be served “fatty meat and bubble and squeak”.

He has written a book about his time in the Defence Force, titled Once A Grunt, and devoted a chapter to the food served at Waiouru.

While on a training course there, Mr Ledingham and others in his unit bought a gas cooker and cooked bacon bones in the barracks.

They were caught by the Orderly Officer who threatened to put the group on charge, before asking what was wrong with the camp food.

One of the soldiers told the officer he had complained twice about the food.

“The officer said, ‘What happened then?’ and the soldier said ‘It got worse’,” Mr Ledingham said.

Heh, the old Army way…perhaps it is time we looked at outsourcing catering and replacing the “fitters and turners”.


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  • mike

    Cam I didn’t realise you were ex-army… what basic and trade were you?

    Proud of my service, BAA292 as a TPR RNZAC, then got out for 10 years and back on BAA331 (made me do another the bastards) as a SUPTECH RNZALR.

    • Weekend warrior…while at university… D Coy. 6 Hauraki…baggy arse grunt usually humping the C9

    • Macca

      RNZAC 1980-86 – QA Squadron. Basic 164, regular force. Got out as a full Corporal and was known as Robbo. Ring any bells?

      • mike

        Before my time mate, and do you know how many Robbo’s are there in the Army?

        • Kendall

          I’ll start counting. Get back to you next year. Ubique

    • Mickrodge

      Hey, I was BAA 292 as well… RNZAMC.

      Then spent 7yrs in Burnham mainly with 2/1st. I must admit I thought the food was pretty good in hindsight (in the mess & via hotbox in the scrub).

      A couple of weeks of rat packs & those tinfoil dinners with the powdered eggs & abattoir floor sausages were pretty good.

  • johnbronkhorst

    Sgt major: OK who called the cook a bastard?
    Voice from the back: Who called the bastard a cook?
    EDIT:…Weekend warrior…1978-1982.

  • Harroputza

    Unfortunately, Cam, the cooking in Waiouru is already outsourced to Transfield. And from personal experience, the quality of the food deteriorated markedly since their introduction.

    If you are eating in the mess, it’s not so bad, because you can choose what you want to eat. But honestly, most people prefer the ration packs to the hot boxes, because they are just that bad. And there will always be one booby prize that has half a meal because some lazy fuck couldn’t be bothered going to get a new pot of slop.

    • peterwn

      So what’s new! Sailing ship officers and crews had to put up with poor quality supplies, rope, etc because of corrupt procurement contracts in the royal Navy.

    • MarcWills

      Yes, most people missed this point about the outsourcing in the original article. The armed services used to be proud of the quality of the food they provided to their troops, but now we know – it’s all about the money stupid! They say that just over $12 per day is allocated for food per person, but of course, now half of this will be going into the corporate pocket, because they have to make a profit too. No longer can we believe in the saying “an army marches on it’s stomach.”

    • 1951

      WHAT! Transfield into food prep as well? Years ago they took-over the petro- chemical end of things leaving local businesses out on a lurch (and I understand a very costly move that has turned out to be) Is there anything they haven’t got their mits on? Maybe some WO sunlight required here……?

  • peterwn

    Perhaps catering should be contracted to Corrections at Rangipo – on condition that they marge both pieces of bread when making sandwiches. Better quality at lower cost.

    Perhaps the Russians should offer Waiouru caterers jobs at Murmansk area prisons.

    • dumbshit

      they could feed greenpeace wankers

      • peterwn


  • middleagedwhiteguy

    In my time in the Navy, I can attest to the first rate nature of the food, and so can my waistline….

  • Col

    Just lazy bastards that can’t cook, outsourced, put in idiots who have no knowledge of how to roast a potato, if you have the product, you should be able to make a good clean yummy meal, it’s not rocket science is it!!!!

  • Sooty

    I was on a mine site in the back blocks of WA. Got maggeted by Eurest. 2,000 workers turn up to listern to Joe McDonald. CFMEU union state organizer. He said “Home Brothers Home” Here we were 10hrs drive from Perth. All flown in to work. There were people ringing mates to come and get them. People ringing up Kalgoolie, hiring buses and selling tickets. Never in the aust history had so many workers departed the worksite, so far out in the bush. There was only the cooks and cleaners left. Then they changed the catering company and we went back to work.

    • Honcho

      Awesome story!

      Its just a shame our best and bravest can’t do the same to try and get the same result.
      The question that really needs to be asked is, ‘what standard of food is served up at the officers mess?’

  • Rodger T

    Cheapest tender gets the contract, just hope like hell you never end up in hospital ,cos` hospital food makes the Army food look like a 5 Michelin star degustation menu.

  • Raquel Blackburn

    This is hardly an up-to-date report – the article is about someone complaining about what the food was like nearly 30 years ago.

    I don’t think the food is that bad (still serving TF) but it’s annoying when you get a chop or drumstick when you’re in the field – great food hygiene eating with your hands when you’re digging in or cleaning weapons

  • GregM

    Yep, it was a common thing at the Navy base when the army boys were there, they all commented on how much better the food was. Navy still uses sea going cheffies in the shore galleys and it was mostly pretty damn good when I was there until two years ago. Serco had just taken over the army kitchens at that stage, and they didn’t have a fucking clue.
    EDIT 22 yrs service.

  • Matt

    The food in Linton, Trentham, and Burnham is generally pretty awesome as all those messes are staffed predominantly with military chefs. Waiouru food is of a terrible standard and there are no military chefs working in the Waiouru messes. The contract in Waiouru used to be with Transfield, however I am pretty sure it is now with a different contractor under the NZDF Lockheed Martin contract.

    The issue is not so much with money (cost per plate is the same nationwide) but with the quality of kitchen staff they can employ in Waiouru – you don’t get the cream of the crop. If you talk with some older military chefs who were posted to Waiouru 10-20 years ago, they will tell you that the people who worked as pothands when they were there are now chefs and shift ICs.

    Also, the food in the Waiouru Officers mess isn’t any different to what is in the 800 man mess. Its the same shit on a different plate.