Now 35 years later, having being director for 30 of those, he was acknowledged and presented with the Long Service Award at the 5th Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) awards earlier this month in Apia, Samoa.
Ngari is happy, “It was nice for people to recognise something I have a passion for,” he said.
Ngari says he came by his career by accident.
Returning home after four years at Auckland University with a Bachelor of Science degree, he found employment with the Met office, and like other scholars he was given two years to work for his scholarship bond.
After six months he decided, “I’ll be here for the long haul.”
Five years later he became director, taking over from Ian Laird in 1989 and continues in the position today.
Weather balloons being released were a usual sight for the school kids back then.
The balloon becomes the eyes and ears at different levels of the atmosphere.
“We used to manually locate the balloon before we locked onto the radar”.
Major progressions since have been that training has been made available to upskill staff, the introduction of social media pages such as Facebook and a website, and television weather presentations.
When Ngari started at the Met office, there were 10 employees on Rarotonga and 12 in the Pa Enua.
Now with modern technology stepping up, there are no longer staff in the outer islands. Instead there are eight automatic weather stations on those islands.
Ngari loves the challenges of the job and appreciates the importance of the knowledge of the department and the significant service it provides for the islands and communities.
“We are always trying to improve our services,” he says.
Ngari says, the biggest climate threat we face is that although the number of cyclones are decreasing, the intensity will increase, and rising sea levels in the Northern Group.
Today the department employs nine males and two females, with an average of 25 years of age; in earlier days the staff were men aged from 30 – 35 years.
He urges those who want to pursue a career in the meteorological field to pick up the subjects at school especially physics and mathematics and later a science degree; “we will certainly be looking for graduates in the near future.”
Born in Rakahanga, Ngari moved to Rarotonga at 3 years of age. He attended Tutakimoa Pre-school, Avarua and Nikao Maori primary school, and Tereora College before heading for Auckland on scholarship for his degree.