13 February 2019
Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Warfare Officer Lieutenant Nick Braun says waking at 3am for the morning watch is usually when he questions his choices in life.
That all goes away when he steps on to the bridge.
“Dawn comes and you’re in formation with 10 other ships, there are helicopters flying overhead, and you’re in a different part of the world, or you’re somewhere in New Zealand that you haven’t seen before.
“That’s when you remember why you are here.”
Lieutenant Braun, 25, is from Upper Hutt and was head boy at Heretaunga College. He joined the RNZN straight after finishing school.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to study, and I didn’t want to waste money and time working it out,” he said. “I wanted a hands-on job – I wanted to be out there, doing something.”
A recruiter pointed him towards the RNZN and he started researching it and signed up.
Eight years later, Lieutenant Braun is the Executive Officer (second-in-command) of HMNZS Hawea, an inshore patrol vessel with a crew of 38.
The ship visited Wellington this month during a warfare officer training trip down the North Island and to Nelson.
During his time in the RNZN he has been to almost every port in New Zealand and about 20 countries, many with frigate HMNZS Te Kaha.
He has participated in Rimpac, the largest military maritime exercise in the world, in Hawaii, has undertaken counter-narcotics busts in the Indian Ocean and spent six months deployed throughout South East Asia.
But some of his high points have occurred closer to home. Inshore patrol vessels assist the Ministry for Primary Industries in fisheries monitoring, and Lieutenant Braun is a qualified boarding officer.
“I really enjoy going out, meeting the crews, and seeing the changes in how the fisheries officers are viewed,” he said. “Five years ago there would be a little tension. These days the fishing crews know that making sure the rules and regulations are adhered to means there is fish for them to catch today and there will be fish to catch in the years to come, by keeping the fisheries sustainable.”
His next posting will be like coming home – he’s going to Trentham as a Maritime Operations planning role at Joint Forces New Zealand – and he would like to go back to his college and talk about the RNZN.
“You’re always developing and it’s not like you have one career – you’re always moving around, taking on new challenges,” he said.
“The military is great if you are not sure what the next step is – it’s training in intense environments, and really sets you up for the rest of your life.”