31 July 2019
Aircraftman Jasmine Cochrane joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) two years ago because she wanted to make a difference and help people.
This month Aircraftman Cochrane, a Safety and Surface Technician, gained another opportunity to achieve her goals when she volunteered to help pick up the tonnes of rubbish scattered by a storm in Fox River in Westland.
“It was quite heart-wrenching to see all the rubbish strewn across the river bed,” said Aircraftman Cochrane, who is one of about 70 New Zealand Defence Force personnel helping in the clean-up.
“As I pick up every piece of plastic, I am thinking, ‘How can I help in producing less of this waste? How can I do better?’ I am sure others involved in the clean-up are having these thoughts as well.”
So far she has picked up numerous plastic supermarket bags, massive sheets of plastic, water bottles and milk containers. Some of the rubbish is buried under rocks or silt and some is entangled with fallen trees and shrubs.
“There’s a lot of digging, pulling and some heavy lifting,” she said. “Apart from five-minute breaks and a quick lunch, we just plough through because we want to get this done.”
Despite the scale of the job, she is hopeful that together with Department of Conservation staff and dozens of volunteers, they will be able to get the job done.
“I don’t think it’s too big a job. We are giving it a really good crack and I think we will be able to make an impact.”
Aircraftman Cochrane, who is from Waitakere in West Auckland, joined the RNZAF in May 2017 after working in the private sector for nine years.
“I joined because I wanted to help people and do something challenging with my life,” she said.
“I’d like to be able to look back someday and say ‘I am so proud that I did that’.”
As a Safety and Surface Technician with the Maintenance Support Squadron at the RNZAF Base Ohakea, Aircraftman Cochrane helps ensure that aircraft and equipment are in peak operational condition.
“Every day brings a new challenge and I find it rewarding to be part of a team that plays a role in supporting air operations,” she said.