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From the classroom to the runway but Manawatū woman still teaching

Palmerston North-born Tara King has swapped the classroom for a new career in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as a Learning Development Officer.

15 July, 2022

She has just graduated the RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course at Base Woodbourne.

Flying Officer King, 37, has been a teacher all her working career, recently working in Hobsonville, Auckland, but was looking for a new challenge that still utilised her qualifications and interests.

“I have an interest in the RNZAF capabilities and technological advancements which is why this service was the one I set my sights on.

“The NZDF careers website was a fantastic resource and seeing the female recruitment numbers climbing helped in my decision to join.”

The mum of three said that choosing a career as an officer in the RNZAF was an easy one.

“I never planned on leading when I started teaching, it was something that happened organically early in my career and I have thrived on situations of leadership since. 

“As a teacher, I enjoyed giving back, so I was a mentor teacher to many amazing beginning teachers and associate teacher to multiple student teachers over my career.” 

Flying Officer King said the decision to become a Learning Development Officer fitted in with her strengths and interest in career growth. The role involves leading learning in the NZDF and managing the risks associated with it.

“The possibility of travelling while working, learning more about the world, being part of the bigger picture and being a small piece of the puzzle in support here in New Zealand and for our allies really excites me – all while developing as a person and professionally." 

  • Flying Officer Tara King

“It is an exciting journey to be on, and I knew within moments of being here that I found my place,” she said.

She said that anyone looking to join should remain flexible and see things for what they are.

“Don’t get hooked on the small things, stay open minded and ensure you give yourself the recovery space to bounce back when those challenges throw you out of sync.

“There are so many enjoyable aspects of this career pathway and you need to celebrate and enjoy them. The opportunities I have already had have been exceptional and make all the hard work worth it.” 

Flying Officer King hopes that she will inspire her children to make a difference in the world.

“The worthwhile risk to being again has been the ultimate outcome for me. I have proven to them that anything is possible, at any age. 

“You can always strive to be the best version of yourself and it is never too late to make those changes and dive right in.”

Flying Officer King will now be posted to RNZAF Base Ohakea and is looking forward to being close to her family again in Palmerston North.

To learn more about a career in the Air Force visit