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Kaitaia Sailor celebrates commissioning to Naval Officer

Kaitaia’s Tyler Simeon says people used to talk down her options in life. Her family has gang connections and both her parents went to prison when she was 12.

10 January, 2022

“Over the years I was told I would end up as a no-hoper.”

She has since celebrated not one but two graduations in her Royal New Zealand Navy career, first as a Communication Warfare Specialist in 2011, and more recently as a commissioned Maritime Logistics Officer.

She wants to tell teens to never let their background, their upbringing or the opinion of others stop them from reaching for the stars.

In July, the 28-year-old began five months of Junior Officer Common Training at Devonport Naval Base, and on 18 December graduated among 10 women and 13 men from class 21/02.

She was promoted from Midshipman to Sub Lieutenant due to her Level 4 studies and experience.

Sub Lieutenant Tyler Simeon performs a haka alongside other graduates

As one of four graduating Maritime Logistics Officers, Sub Lieutenant Simeon will be responsible for the provision of support to the Navy’s ships, bases and personnel. She will manage supply chain systems, human resources, cash control, logistics planning, catering and food services, in many cases as a team leader.

She said her Navy career followed in her great-grandfather’s footsteps. He served on HMNZS Leander, a prominent New Zealand cruiser during World War II.

“I also wanted to travel, study, and earn money at the same time. University didn’t look as appealing with the hefty study loans. A lot of my close friends at school went for the Army or found jobs within Northland. I knew that if I joined the Navy I could leave Kaitaia and see the world.”

The distinctive character of Northland also ran strongly in the Navy, she said.

“People from home feel like family to me here in Devonport, because we have that distinct upbringing of Northland life and seem to just always look out for one another.”

There’s actual family as well. “Being Māori you tend to learn about whakapapa and your wider connections. I found out I’m related to a multitude of people in the Navy, through knowing my pepeha, my marae and being immersed in whakapapa growing up.” ~ Sub Lieutenant Simeon

She loved watching her colleagues grow in the Junior Officer course, and as an experienced sailor she looked out for them.

Sub Lieutenant Tyler Simeon, alongside Midshipman Tevita Tu’uta, conducts a fire exercise at the Navy’s Tamaki Leadership Centre, Whangaparaōa Peninsula.

Sub Lieutenant Tyler Simeon is looking forward to the next chapter of her Royal New Zealand Navy career

Her biggest challenge was a week-long exercise in Whangaparaōa in a team playing the role of a Navy advance force in a troubled Pacific Island.

“So much hard work, effort, sweat and tears leading up to that week and to look left and right at my ‘oppos’ during our night in the tunnels, knowing that we gave it everything, was definitely the best feeling to date. It was my biggest highlight of the course.”

Ahead of her are trade courses, training her in Maritime Logistics.

“I want to deploy to foreign countries and work with all three services, including land deployments. I would also like to study Human Resources and te reo Māori once I have a good grasp of my Maritime Logistics role.” 

She has Level 4 Qualifications in Personal Training and loves doing CrossFit, weights, and coaching.

“I also love paddling in waka ama, which I do in Takapuna. Even with service life I’ve been able to this in my own time. In the future I would like to start up a Waka Ama club for the Navy.”

Her advice to others thinking about a Navy career is to go for it.

“Give it your everything and find your passion. Make sure you are physically and mentally prepared but also leave all expectations at the door.”