NZDF

From Struggling Teen to Navy's Top Ranks

Warrant Officer Wayne Dyke, who will be sworn in as the new Warrant Officer of the Navy in a Change of Watch ceremony next week.
Warrant Officer Wayne Dyke, who will be sworn in as the new Warrant Officer of the Navy in a Change of Watch ceremony next week.

14 February 2017

A Kapiti teenager who was small for his age and struggling for direction in life has progressed to become the highest-ranked sailor in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

Warrant Officer Wayne Dyke, who joined the RNZN in 1986 aged 17, will be sworn in as the new Warrant Officer of the Navy in a Change of Watch ceremony on 20 February.

The Warrant Officer of the Navy is not a commissioned officer. He or she is the highest-ranked naval rating, who works closely with the Chief of Navy to bring the enlisted ranks’ perspective to chain-of-command decisions. Warrant Officer Dyke will take over the three-year role from Warrant Officer Steve Bourke.

As a teenager living at Paraparaumu Beach Dyke thought about joining the police force but was not big enough to qualify.

“I got to seventh form and had no direction,” he says. His stepbrother was in the Army, but a recruiter noticed Dyke leaning towards the ocean and suggested the Navy.

“I’ve been in the Navy for 30 years. I never intended to stay as long as I did, but by the time I was big enough and broad enough to join the police force I was having too much fun.”

During Basic Common Training he says he grew 15 centimetres, thanks to a daily regime of three big meals and exercise, and set himself a goal of five years’ service.

“By the time four years had rolled around, I had had my 21st in a foreign port – was enjoying the camaraderie on the ships – that was it.”

He has had a varied career, with highlights including being made the Command Warrant Officer during counter-piracy deployments on HMNZS Te Mana, being present at peace talks in Bougainville and being deployed on missions to East Timor. He was also part of the weapons inspection team in Iraq before the second Gulf War.

As the Warrant Officer of the Navy, he wants to support and recognise the talent of young sailors.

“As an organisation we have become a lot more aware of how talented our young sailors are, and how many skills they have,” he says. “It’s a really exciting time to be a young sailor in the Navy – I’m envious of the journey they are about to embark on.”

As a veteran, he is quick to tell youngsters of the advances made in the RNZN during his time of service.

“I work with a dynamic command team, and it’s a safe and open environment, where people are encouraged to speak up.”

His advice to others is to grab opportunities when they come.

“Never turn down an opportunity, even if you feel it may take you out of your comfort zone. It will give you more training. You never know what opportunities it will lead to –  often it will be bigger and better things.”

This page was last reviewed on 16 February 2017, and is current.