29 January 2013
Sailor of the Year Leading Diver Joshua Kauika with his partner Lucy Cinjee and his award citation.
Leading Diver (LDR) Joshua Kauika, who has just been named Sailor of the Year for 2012, wanted a challenging career and joined the Navy straight from Wanganui High School in 2006 knowing he would get just that.
Six years into a career in which he has been described as "inspirational", "exemplary" and "the epitome of what a Leading Sailor should be," LDR Kauika was presented with the Navy’s Sailor of the Year award for 2012 by His Excellency the Governor General Lieutenant General the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae at the Navy’s recent Division’s parade.
"I always wanted a challenge and I knew the Navy would get it for me," says LDR Kauika, an Underwater Engineering diver with the Navy’s Operational Dive Team. "My father had always wanted to join one of the armed forces but he never got a chance, so I’m doing it for him.
"I did a lot of free diving in my school years with my father on the East Coast so the Dive Team was what I wanted. The recruiters say you have to choose three trades in case your first doesn’t work out, but I never wanted to do anything else than be a diver."
LDR Kauika successfully completed his Petty Officer Diver professional course in 2012. During the course he mentored six students undergoing their Able Diver training. His influence was instrumental in the Able Diver course achieving the highest course pass rate for 20 years with all six students who commenced the course successfully graduating from it.
Last September, LDR Kauika was part of a 24-strong Royal New Zealand Navy Operational Dive Team/Mine Counter Measures Team that took part in the International Mine Counter Measures Exercise 2012 (IMCMEX 12) in the Gulf, hosted by the US Naval Forces Central Command.
During the exercises, US participants lost track of a training mine and asked LDR Kauika to search for it.
"It was between 49 and 50 metres down, on the seabed, about the limit we can go," he recalls. "We found it as soon as we got to the bottom which was good as we were on timings [precision timing of the stages of a dive because of the depth]."
The citation read out as LDR Kauika was presented with his award said of that dive: "He achieved this task with such speed and efficiency that the Combined Force Commanders of the Royal Navy and United States Navy singled out Kauika for recognition; praising both his professionalism and effectiveness."
The citation also said: "Leading Diver Kauika is an inspirational member of the Operational Dive Team approaching all challenges with a positive attitude and demeanour. He maintains a high work ethic and his diligence ensures he is trusted by peers and superiors alike. [He] is the epitome of what a Leading Sailor should be. He leads by example and is widely respected by his peers and superiors."
LDR Kauika said the Governor General told him the Sailor of the Year award was an honour to be worn with pride.
"I love my work," says LDR Kauika. "I can’t get enough of it."