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Journey from skate park to high seas

Wairarapa College old boy Jamie Hatchard shows his form during basic training. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Masterton’s Jamie Hatchard has swapped the ups and downs of his skate park for the South Pacific Ocean as a future operations specialist in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Ordinary Seaman Hatchard, 18, who attended Tinui School and Wairarapa College, will step out with about 90 trainees at the end of June after 18 weeks of basic common training at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland.

He wanted a career where he could travel and get qualifications while working.

“I have always had a fondness for the military,” he said.

“The navy recruiters came to Wairarapa College when I was in Year 11, and that was when I started to think about it.

“Midway through Year 13 I decided to apply and see what I could make out of this career.”

His parents dropped him at Wellington Airport and he said it was “straight into it” when he turned up at the naval base on a Sunday.

“It was a bit of a shake-up, but I was expecting it.”

Flying with his skateboard at Devonport Naval Base.

He got permission to take his skateboard to the base and in the second half of his training, with more privileges given to recruits, he was able to visit Victoria Skate Park in Auckland.

One of the most difficult adjustments for him was three fixed meals a day.

Navy meals are large, but he likes to eat a lot – and often.

“The early starts are also hard, and being away from home.”

During training, parents are allowed to see their sailors for the first time at the family church service, after five weeks, and Hatchard’s parents came to Auckland for that.

“My parents liked the idea of me joining the navy,” he said.

“They didn’t like the idea of me going away, but they are proud of what I’m doing.

“There’s a lot of discipline, but I am more confident in my ability now.

“Before doing this I would always second-guess myself for a lot of things.

“But for this I have had faith in my ability.”

It helped that the intake was like one big family, he said.

High points have been damage-control exercises, spending a week sailing on a yacht, and firefighting – all sailors qualify as firefighters.

After graduation, Hatchard and his intake will get a week off, then go back to the base to start their specialist trade training, before posting to a ship.

“This is definitely what I want to be doing,” he said.

“I want to get deployed and go overseas. This is what we are training for.”


  1. My brother in law, now retired, was a Commander in the Royal Navy, trained at Dartmouth, was posted abroad at times, even to NZ and OZ… lived later in NZ now in OZ.. enjoyed the life.. was a helicopter pilot. its a good life, had a friend in Wellington who was on Britannia.

  2. Congratulations Jamie, a fantastic career decision. The Navy provided a fantastic grounding for my daughter. ‘Sail away from safe harbors … explore, dream, discover’.

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