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Northland students sample Navy life

Hi-tech capability combined with Navy hospitality when HMNZS Manawanui hosted senior secondary school students for a day during Waitangi commemorations this month.

09 February, 2024

The outing, coordinated with Defence Recruiting, involved 18 students who had expressed interest in the New Zealand Defence Force as a career. Previous outings, called ‘Ahoy Waitangi’, have run since 2018 but involved primary school pupils.

Ensign Jess Andrews, on board Manawanui, says they transferred the students by seaboat to the ship, sitting adjacent Waitangi.

“After a welcome from the Commanding Officer they were given a general tour, then a damage control demonstration on the flight deck to show them how that works. They had a go with a variety of Damage Control equipment, including fire hoses.”

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Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, met the students before they embarked.

Following lunch the students were split into three groups and taken to different stations on the ship. “Members of the ship’s company were able to introduce their trades to the students and explain what they did on the ship. The students got see different work places in a ship and ask questions about Navy trades.”

She says they wanted to expose the students to the variety of jobs in the Navy. “It might give them some ideas as to what they’d like to do if they joined.”

The ship was using ‘dynamic positioning’ to hold its position, where a computer coordinates Manawanui’s various propulsion systems to hold an exact spot on the water, even in rough conditions.

Tutor Graeme Patu, from People Potential in Whangarei, says that was an eye-opener. “That was almost science fiction, how the ship can sit there without an anchor.”

He says the outing provided great knowledge about what people did on Navy ships. “We brought someone who is really interested in joining the Navy as an electrician. But everyone asked lots of questions on the day and they found it really helpful. And the food was the best. I’d heard the Navy has always got the best food.”

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Students visit HMNZS Manwanui | Royal New Zealand Navy

Cadet Flight Sergeant Ripeka Joyce, 17, from Kaikohe, says her mother signed her up for the visit. “That stood out for me, how a ship can stay in one place even in big waves.” She is currently with No. 25 Squadron Air Training Corps and is considering a future with the Defence Force. “I want to do something with lots of opportunities. It was good to talk to the sailors, they were amazing help.”

Kelly Stacey, from Kaitaia, says her favourite experience was learning how to use a fire hose. “Everyone on the ship is trained to fight fires, which I thought was really cool. It was a great experience, getting to see what a day in the life of Navy personnel is like.”

Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, met the students before they embarked. He told them he was in his 38th year in the Navy. “I would do it all again. I’ve had a really good time, I’ve been provided a whole lot of good training and I’ve had some fantastic opportunities.”