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Career high flyer to test warfare skills



Corporal Portia Havill-494A Mangawhai woman is embarking on her dream job, practising anti-submarine warfare tactics in Micronesia.

Corporal Portia Havill, 24, is an air warfare specialist with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and is part of an RNZAF detachment taking part in the two-week Guam-based training exercise Guamex 17, which started on July 29.

The RNZAF contribution to the exercise comprises an Orion P-3K2 surveillance aircraft and support team, which will practise anti-submarine warfare skills alongside forces from the United States and the Japanese Self-Defense Force.

Corporal Havill, a former Otamatea High School student, said it was challenges like these that drew her to the RNZAF. A similar exercise a year ago “sealed the deal”, providing her the job satisfaction she was looking for.

“I knew that I did not want to just go to university like everyone else,” she said.

Having seen advertisements on TV, she started researching career options with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

At the Defence Career Experience she narrowed it down to the Air Force after being, as she put it, “that kid who asks all the annoying questions”.

Fuelled by the promise of job variety, her first big exercise was Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s biggest maritime exercise, in 2016. Attending the exercise and working alongside 26 nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel off the Hawaiian Islands confirmed to her that she had made the right career choice.

She performs a variety of tasks at No. 5 Squadron, from hosting VIP visitors to the intense satisfaction of being part of successful search and rescue missions.

As part of the NZDF, Corporal Havill also gets to integrate with the Army and Navy. Spending five days on HMNZS Te Mana for an activity off the coast of New Zealand gave her a different perspective.

She is looking forward to other opportunities the RNZAF holds for her.

“You are provided with great quality training and the opportunity to learn more about yourself and make great friends for life. I’d recommend it to everyone.

“The job has proved to be everything I was looking for.”


ON AIR: Corporal Portia Havill looks out the window of an RNZAF Orion P-3K2 surveillance aircraft on patrol above New Zealand water.

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