Sisters serving at sea together
Two sisters from the New Zealand Army and the Royal New Zealand Navy shared a trip to sea last month on HMNZS Wellington for the New Zealand Defence Force’s resupply mission to the Kermadec Islands.
Lance Corporal Tamika Taikato, 23, is a Movement Operator with the Army’s Logistics Regiment based at Linton and has been to sea several times with the RNZN. Her younger sister, Able Communications Warfare Specialist Jade Taikato, 21, went to sea for the first time since joining the RNZN in 2017.
The sisters, the two oldest of eight children, who both went to Whangamata Area School, deployed together on the RNZN’s twice-yearly trip to Raoul Island, the largest of the Kermadec Islands, to support the Department of Conservation base there and research work by scientists.
HMNZS Wellington transported 20 government staff and 13 tonnes of supplies and equipment.
“I was excited to be on board with Jade,” Lance Corporal Taikato says. “It was cool to have a familiar face on board and have someone to ask about the Navy and get her insight.
“We didn’t see a lot of each other once we got to the island, because one of us works on the ship and one on land,” she says. “But it was great to catch up on the way to Raoul and back to Auckland.”
It was stories of life in the RNZN from the sisters’ cousin, Petty Officer Combat System Specialist Andre Taikato, who served 17 years in the RNZ Navy and is now a Reservist, that inspired them to join the NZDF.
“I liked Andre’s stories, but I get seasick so preferred to serve on land,” Lance Corporal Taikato says.
“I liked the self-discipline required in the Army and in this role I travel a lot, so joining was good for me.”
She joined the Army in February 2015, completing her basic training at Waiouru Military Camp. She later did her movement operator trade training at Linton Army Camp and spent a couple of years there.
“Since then I’ve had a lot of trips away,” she says. “I was deployed on a big exercise in the South Pacific with HMNZS Canterbury in April 2018, to Papua New Guinea for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in November and helped with the annual resupply mission in Antarctica.”
Her sister, Able Communications Warfare Specialist Taikato was also inspired by her cousin’s time in the RNZN and visited Devonport Naval Base when he was based there.
“I wanted to travel and play sport and I could do both of those in the Navy, as well as study. It’s a good lifestyle in the Navy,” she said.
After graduating from her RNZN basic training in December 2017, she trained as a Communications Warfare Specialist.
“This is my first ship and my first time offshore from New Zealand, so it was a great experience,” she says.
“The biggest challenges were learning the ship, no phone service, and leading the Morale Committee on board – getting everyone involved.”