Able Steward Deena-Ranginui Puketapu has just finished five weeks in Hawaii participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific.
8 August 2016
Hawke’s Bay woman Deena-Ranginui Puketapu is living a “life less ordinary” as a steward with the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Able Steward Puketapu, 22, a former Hukarere Maori Girls College student who hails from Patangata, in Central Hawke’s Bay, has just finished five weeks in Hawaii participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, involved 26 nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel.
During the exercise Able Steward Puketapu served as a steward on the HMAS Canberra, Australia’s largest and newest warship.
“The highlight of the exercise was carrying out the ‘Procedure Alpha’ while coming into Pearl Harbor,” she says. “This is when the whole ship’s company is in ceremonial dress, spread around the perimeter of the upper deck, as the ship sails into the harbour.”
This was Able Steward Puketapu’s second RIMPAC – at the previous one, in 2014, she served on RNZN ship HMNZS Canterbury.
Working on an Australian ship the second time was a different experience, she says.
“I looked after the commanding officer and distinguished visitors. I was responsible for completing the VIP functions and serving 105 officers through the wardroom.
“In my own time, I also took people for PT [physical training].”
It was the Navy’s emphasis on physical fitness and sports that enticed her to join the service just more than four years ago.
“I joined because I wanted to travel the world and play sport,” she says. “While in the Navy I have been involved at inter-service level for softball and at NZDF level for basketball, netball, and touch.”
She was named Navy Young Sportsperson of the Year in 2014.
“It is a good career,” she says. “You get to go places and do things you wouldn’t do in an ordinary life. And you make life-long friends.”
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