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Sailor of the Year

“No finer ambassador” - Leading Writer Joanna Mafi is the Sailor of the Year.

28 November, 2023

Her former Commanding Officer, Commander Andy Dowling, has described her as a “tremendous asset”, during a 14-month posting to the Maritime Training Group, the Navy’s sea training specialists.

“Her diligence, tenacity and utterly infectious enthusiasm are something to behold,” he said in his nomination.

“The RNZN would find no finer ambassador than Leading Writer Mafi."

She excitedly accepted her award in front of her Navy colleagues and her Mother, Salome, and sister Paulie, at a ceremony last month in the wardroom at HMNZS Philomel.

Navy writers are the operational administrators aboard ships, handling payroll, customer service, document management and personnel management.

At the time she was serving in HMNZS Manawanui in the Pacific, so she had to accept via a live Microsoft Teams link from Fiji where the ship had been on Operation Calypso - as well as being involved in delivering relief supplies following Cyclone Mal.

Leading Writer Mafi was born and raised in Auckland, attending McAuley High School, in Auckland. She joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in February 2019, completing Basic Branch Training and Branch Training before posting to the Fleet Personnel Training Organization (FPTO) as an Ordinary Writer.

Her sea service has included postings to HMNZ Ships Canterbury, Te Kaha and Manawanui. She has also served ashore in Wellington at HRSC, again at FPTO and at the Maritime Training Group (MTG) in Auckland.

In 2019 on completion of her training Leading Writer Mafi was posted to FPTO in the documents office, before briefly posting to HMNZS Canterbury and then back to FPTO.

In 2020 she posted to Wellington where she gained promotion to Able Writer in March of that year. LWTR Mafi then posted back to FPTO, but this was during the COVID Pandemic where she was employed at the Managed Isolation Facilities.

Later that year Leading Writer Mafi got a short notice posting overseas where she joined HMNZS TE KAHA during her upgrade in Canada.

In 2022 she completed her Leading Writers Professional Course before returning to HMNZS TE KAHA until August of that year. She then posted to the Maritime Training Group (MTG) (formerly MOET) in an administration role.

During 2023, Leading Writer Mafi completed her Leading Rates Development Course and her Damage Control Team Leaders Course before posting back to MTG, and gaining her promotion to Leading Writer in March. In August she posted to her next sea posting in HMNZS Manawanui.

Her citation, based on her posting at MTG, says Leading Writer Mafi excels at all she does. “Meticulous in her attention to detail, tenacious in her approach to challenges as well as being relentlessly cheerful she is simply a fantastic member of our organisation. Always willing to go out of her way in order to facilitate the often dynamic nature of MTG and to deploy to provide shore support to the team.

“Leading Writer Mafi has demonstrated that she can work well in a very demanding role with a smile on her face and a constant willingness to do the best that she can in all she turns her hand to.”