Students Take to Skies and Seas with NZDF

04 May Students Take to Skies and Seas with NZDF

Pakuranga College students Depali Lamba (Year 12) and Andrea Hawke (Year 13) had a holiday experience different from most when they each embarked upon a New Zealand Defence Force wahine camp during the April term break.

Depali spent the first week at the School to Seas camp sleeping on the HMNZS Canterbury as it docked in Devonport. She was one of 30 female students selected to take part in the camp, designed to show wahine the opportunities available to them in the Navy in a hands-on environment.

“We got to try lots of different specialisations with an all-female crew,” says Depali. “That was very cool.”

“My favourite activity was practising flood control during firefighting training. Most people don’t equate firefighting with the Navy, but if a ship catches fire in an explosion it’s very important to be able to control the blaze and minimise damage to the ship in a way that keeps it afloat. If you can’t do this, there’s nowhere to go but into the ocean.”

“We rotated through some amazing experiences – weapons engineering, deploying underwater robots, diving, controlling a frigate on a simulator, and bomb disposal in very heavy protective suits.”

One thing that surprised Depali was the breadth of career options available. “There are so many roles on offer behind the front line, from lawyers and psychologists to chefs and musicians. There’s a niche for everyone.”

Andrea was at the Ohakea air base outside of New Plymouth during the second week of the holidays, fully immersed in an action-packed School to Skies camp with 40 school-aged wahine.

“One of the most challenging things we did was build a plane, which had to be road and flight worthy. That was tough. We were also shown the basics of flying in a helicopter simulator, did a camouflage exercise where we hid people in the bush, had to erect an enormous tent without instructions, and met some Army dogs which was a highlight.”

“My favourite activity was a flight on an NH90 chopper. We were at canopy level and the rear door was open. We were belted in, but it was still nerve-wracking. Definitely not a scenic flight.”

One thing Andrea and Depali both agree on is that the food was fantastic. Very good and lots of it was the verdict from both.

While Depali is still considering her options for the future, Andrea is certain of her next move. She plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Auckland through the NZDF scholarship programme. Once finished, she’ll be serving the Air Force with her new skills.

Images: NZDF.

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