He had no idea where it would take him, two years later.
A week ago, the 22-year-old returned from a 13-day operation as an electronic monitoring officer onboard the police patrol boat Te Kukupa.
This was a maritime surveillance operation code-named Norpat, standing for Northern Patrol,
Mataora joined the crew patrolling through the central and northern waters of the Cook Islands, part of a national effort to deter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and other criminal activities within the Cook Islands exclusive economic zone.
Te Kukupa completed the operation and arrived back at Avatiu on July 29 and upon completing his second sea patrol, Mataora says this was a good experience.
It was an interesting experience to board vessels at sea, rather than in the harbours in Avatiu or Apia.
“It was also interesting to conduct boarding at all hours of the day. We conducted three inspections after midnight, right up until the sun came up.”
Twelve fishing boats were boarded during Operation Norpat, with Mataora taking part in all inspections.
“I was part of the sweep team along with other crew members, searching through fishing gear, accommodation quarters as well as ensuring all required paperwork was up to date and valid,” says Mataora.
Fisheries officers don’t have set duties on the patrol boat, but Mataora jumped at the chance to lend a hand by helping out with daily meal preparation for the crew.
He is grateful for the opportunity to gain more experience at sea and looks forward to taking part in future operations.
Marine Resources Secretary Pamela Maru says such close collaboration with the Police Maritime Division and participating in patrols provides an invaluable capacity building opportunity for young fisheries officers.
“The professionalism shown by the Police Maritime Unit is outstanding. It is a great collegial environment for Fisheries Officers learning the ropes.”