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Newly graduated Waikato man has eyes on the sky

A passion for aviation has led to a career change for Pilot Officer Kiwi Walker (Ngati Maniapoto) who has recently graduated from the 17-week Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Officer Commissioning Course.

13 January, 2022

Pilot Officer Walker was adamant about a career in the industry and eight years ago he found an opening as an aviation fuel specialist in the RNZAF.

“I had a degree in aviation management and I was just trying to get into the airlines at the time, but I was having no luck. When I saw a role with the Air Force as a refueller, I thought I would give it a go. They took me on straight away.”

Growing up on a dairy farm in Otewa and Waitomo, near Otorohanga, instilled a strong work ethic in the 36-year-old.

“One thing I learnt on the farm was the value of hard work. It wasn’t easy, but it was very rewarding. It was also great to be part of a small, close-knit community,” he said.

Now, he’s moved on to a different challenge and completed Officer training in preparation for pilot training.

The course concentrated on learning to manage, command, and lead people in a military setting – with a major focus on leading teams.

“The course was extremely rewarding, but there were challenges. The university assignments were particularly challenging. They were very large assignments that needed to be done on top of our normal course work, which was already heavy going,” he said.

“I’m open to being posted to any of the squadrons once I’m qualified, but given the option, I’d like to go to No. 40 Squadron with the Hercules.”

Flying Hercules aircraft appealed to the former refueller who also learned to drive trucks in the role and transporting materials.

“I like that aspect of transporting goods - I see the Hercules as a truck of the skies.”

Pilot Officer Kiwi Walker has recently graduated from the Royal New Zealand Air Force Officer Commissioning Course.

Pilot Officer Walker’s iwi is Ngāti Maniapoto and he said Māori culture’s core understanding that people are vitally important underpins nearly everything he does.

“It hasn’t really failed me to date. It’s always been drummed into me that family are important, even now they still support me big time. They help pull me through anything and everything.”

His philosophy also extends to the Air Force. 

“On missions, you can have all the equipment in the world, but if the people aren’t up to scratch, the expensive equipment means nothing. I’ve seen how well a team can operate when you focus on the people – you can move mountains if the people are doing well.” ~ Pilot Officer Walker

Pilot Officer Walker’s next role will be working on Op Protect in a Managed Isolation Facility before beginning flying training at RNZAF Base Ohakea.