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Nothing Significant to Report by Dario Nustrini

Ever wondered what it's truly like to be a soldier? In Nothing Significant to Report, former Kiwi soldier Dario Nustrini shares highly entertaining stories of his time in the New Zealand Army.

When new recruit Dario’s head was freshly shaved in preparation for the army, he knew nothing about what training to fight, kill and die for New Zealand would look like. 

“Since leaving high school the year before, I had been on a steady diet of spliffs, Speights and the occasional sandwich from the cafe I worked at as a waiter. I weighed about as much as an empty pillowcase, with slightly less insulation from the cold,” he says.

Why did he join the army? Dario admits he had never been fascinated by guns or tanks. On reflection, he says he was trying to escape a predictable life. For Dario, it was the equivalent of running away to join the circus and it began with 16 weeks of gruelling basic training.

“Of all the lessons I had learned on basic training, from firing a rifle, to laying a mine, and all the hundreds of other small soldiering skills around teamwork that went with them, one stands out as the most enriching. I learned that I am much stronger and tougher than I had ever thought possible. I was capable of walking past the point of exhaustion. I could endure without food or sleep. It wasn’t pleasant, but I could do it,” he says.

“It’s a pressure test. If you can’t handle being yelled at, or made to clean something that you’ve already cleaned, or any of the other thousand frustrating tasks that were set before us - if you can’t handle that level of stress without losing your cool, how are you supposed to handle being shot at? Or having grenades fall around you?”

“It’s not for everyone… Just like being a surgeon or a professional footballer isn’t for everyone. It’s a job that only some of us can do, And I knew now, beyond a doubt, that I could do it,” he says after completing basic training.

Every page includes an amusing observation or tale, from his ill-fated first impression as a new recruit and endless hole-digging to secretly harbouring a parrot in his barracks! 

The laugh-out-loud moments continue throughout, but when Dario is deployed to war-torn Iraq, what will he think of the role he has spent five years preparing for?

Dario Nustrini joined the New Zealand Army in 2011 and became an Electronic Warfare Operator. He served six years, including an operational deployment to Iraq. He left the army in 2017 and studied creative writing at the University of Auckland. Today he is a freelance TV writer and career firefighter.

Reviewer: Andrea Molloy



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