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Squadron leader to speak at schools

Thursday 25 February 2010 | Published in Regional


The Cook Islands’ own Royal New Zealand Air Force squadron leader, Kaveriri Tamariki, is visiting local schools this week to talk about the Cyclone Pat relief effort and careers in the military.

Tamariki, who is based at defence headquarters in Wellington, has a long history of working on disaster response teams. He was in Samoa to provide essential services to those displaced by the tsunami and said he ‘regularly responds to disasters across the South Pacific’.

Tamariki flew with the C130 Hercules to Aitutaki four times in two days to shuttle 80,000 pounds of freight to the cyclone-stricken island.

“It’s always great to come home to help our people,” he said.

His team, he said, was responsible for emergency response on Aitutaki and will hand the rebuilding project over to government.

On Tuesday, he spoke to a full Princess Anne Hall at Tereora College. He showed a slideshow of photos snapped during the response phase and encouraged students to look into joining the NZ military.

“A lot of Pacific Islanders don’t [realise] they can join the military for some reason,” he said. “It’s a bit of a stereotype and it’s not true.”

He told students that if they perform well on their NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3 exams, they have the option of joining the military.

“As long as you study hard, they’ll open their doors for you,” he said.

He said that it’s important to start thinking about careers in the military as early as year 10, and told students that the military offers careers ranging from physical training instructor all the way up to pilot.

“It’s up to you how far you want to go in the service,” he said.

He said that joining the service has a number of benefits – both financial and personal.

“My 21-year-old son [is in the air force and] making $65,000 a year, just to give you an idea,” he said. “But you don’t join for the money. It’s a career and a lifestyle... it’s a great life, and you make lots of friends.”

Tamariki will be speaking at Nukutere College today at 11.40am, at Avatea Primary tomorrow at 9am and at Titikaveka College tomorrow at 10am.