‘Becoming a pilot is a passion’

Friday November 29, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Araura College senior students pose with school officials and Air Raro guests during the final day of their careers week.  Seated from left are:  Maths teacher Tu’u Singsam, principal Gaylyn Lockington, Air Rarotonga pilot Peter Teiti, his mother Ngereteina Teiti and Air Rarotonga Aitutaki Station Manager Sisi Upu. Standing behind Sisi is Deputy Principal Corina Ngatamariki. 19112807 Araura College senior students pose with school officials and Air Raro guests during the final day of their careers week. Seated from left are: Maths teacher Tu’u Singsam, principal Gaylyn Lockington, Air Rarotonga pilot Peter Teiti, his mother Ngereteina Teiti and Air Rarotonga Aitutaki Station Manager Sisi Upu. Standing behind Sisi is Deputy Principal Corina Ngatamariki. 19112807

As a schoolboy, Peter Teiti saw two Air Raro pilots in their uniforms, and that was it, he knew what he wanted to do. Isabel Shepherd reports from Aitutaki.

 

When Peter Sandy Teiti was starting out, a senior pilot told him he wouldn’t make it, because he couldn’t speak English properly. That just steeled his resolve.

Last week, the Air Raro first officer returned to his old school, Araura College, to tell students to follow their dreams – whoever stood in their way.

Taiti was Tereora College head boy from 2002 to 2003, and his speech at the Aitutaki school’s holiday job search programme inspired a new generation of students. Air Raro joined several local businesses offering job search opportunities and career planning discussions at the school.

The careers week was principal Gaylyn Lockington’s initiative, intended at providing “that extra encouragement and job search support for our senior students”.

“We didn’t want to release our senior students this year without any help. It would be nice to know that we supported our senior students as much as we can to find holiday work, and hopefully towards a long-term career goal or opportunity.  It is part of our responsibility as they’re attending college.”

Lockington said she hoped the students returned next year with more confidence and a better focus towards their career pathways. “It is part of our careers programme at the school and we thank our local and Cook Islands businesses for attending, and look forward to their continued support.”

Businesses attending last week included the Pacific Resort, Tamanu Beach Resort and Air Rarotonga. 

“It was a tremendous outcome for our senior students and there were several takers for following up on job search programmes,” said Lockington.

Peter Teiti said his path to becoming a qualified jet pilot was a tough one. “It’s not an easy ride if you want to become a pilot,” he explained.

“You have to want it so much that every obstacle is a challenge, not a roadblock.  Becoming a pilot is not a job, it is a career and it is a passion.

“When something stands in the way of your career, you’ve got to decide whether to give up, to walk around it or better yet, to walk through it. You just have to find a way; that is the key to achieving your passion and your career.”

Teiti admitted his career path was often difficult. “I hated reading, but I had to read, and read I did. A senior pilot even told me that I wouldn’t make it because I couldn’t speak English properly. So I read more and worked harder at improving my English. You just have to find a way to overcome all these obstacles.”

Asked what triggered his ambition, Teiti said a similar careers talk by two pilots, James Herman and Edwin (Eddie) Puna set his career plans in focus. “I saw these two in their pilots’ uniforms and that was it, I wanted to be like them.”

While Puna furthered his pilot’s career with Air New Zealand after starting with Air Raro, James Herman kept his word to mentor Ewan Smith and stayed put. 

“Instead of attending 6th form, I continued with Ewan and loaded bags while completing my pilot training,” Herman says now. “I graduated as a scenic pilot and two years later, was the first co-pilot with Munro (Hockin) on a Saab.”

Herman is now a senior Saab and Jet Captain as well as a Check and Training Captain with Flight Examiner privileges.

In her closing speech at careers day, Lockington applauded all local businesses and Air Raro for attending at short notice. She made special mention to Air Raro’s generosity in sponsoring her and 16 other Araura College students from Years 7-10 to attend this year’s Careers Expo at the National Auditorium in Avarua this month.

“Air Raro’s generosity meant much needed exposure for our students to career opportunities and programmes on a much wider scale. This has given us more exposure on how we can support our students in career development programmes and we are thankful for the opportunity,” said Lockington.

Another careers expo is planned for the college next year, with acceptance already received from several Government departments and local businesses.  Others interested in participating are encouraged to contact Araura College.

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