Year 12 Tereora College student Te Mata Patai loves to travel, she is pictured with Air New Zealand staff Nick Shalder (Rarotonga’s Air New Zealand station manager) and Lindsay Graham. Photo: Melina Etches/22061619
Air New Zealand staff Lindsay Graham, John Strickland and Iain Howard, who live in New Zealand, flew in specially for the 2022 Careers Expo Day held yesterday, to inspire young Cook Islanders wanting to pursue a career in aviation.
All three were raised and educated in Rarotonga and attended Tereora College. They were happy to return home to encourage and inspire students and help guide them in their future career paths.
excited to discover Graham, Strickland and Howard are from Rarotonga and former
students of Tereora.
Graham, who is an
Air Bus flight attendant, said: “I’ve seen a lot more kids showing an interest
in our Air New Zealand booth, and having an idea of what they want to do when
they leave school.”
“I’ve seen my
former teachers and students who I used to babysit as kids at this Expo.
“I’m working for
an airline that flies (all) over the world. I love meeting people and a highlight
of my job is running into locals on the flight.”
qualify as a licenced aircraft maintenance engineer in 2023. He dropped out of
college and started working at Rarotonga’s Air New Zealand as a loader, climbing
up the ranks to soon his dream role.
Strickland said he
was inspired by his “old man who was a mechanic”.
He then applied
for an apprenticeship with Air NZ and was successful. In 2018 he was given the
opportunity to go to New Zealand. He completed 36 weeks at the Air New Zealand
Academy of Learning which provides hands on experience and all the basics of
“I took the long
way around, I left school early… but out of determination I’m doing what I do
and I enjoy it,” said Strickland.
“I’ve come through
the unconventional way, I want the students to know not to give up, it’s not
His advice to the
students is, “what I was told when I applied was attitude, what they are
looking for is attitude, they can teach you things, but your attitude they can’t
noted the good support and mentorship he received from the station engineers.
Rarotonga Air New Zealand’s station engineer, looks after the maintenance and
checking of the planes before they depart the airstrip.
This is Shalders
second year at Careers Expo. He was pleased to say “we got some special help
(Graham, Strickland and Iain Howard) this year, it’s awesome having these guys
come up and it has been going really well, the students can actually see what
Team leader of Air
New Zealand in Rarotonga, Stevenson Safotu said they also visit the schools and
talk to the students about the “behind the scenes at the airport”.
Students are also
offered a day to be guided and shown all the working aspects of the airline and
over 400 kids have experienced the tour.
“They spend the
day with us from customer service, refueling, engineering… and we can give the
option of work experience after school on weekends, or school holidays and some
want to go further,” said Safotu.
Before the Covid-19
pandemic several students were hired as casuals and over the past few years some
have gone on to engineering school.
“We have a great
programme, we are opening the door for them and creating opportunities,” Safotu