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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

First impressions do count, and so it is that the RNZAF is trying to create a good, welcoming impression for recruits and their families coming to New Zealand under its current UK Recruitment Project. Project co-ordinator SQNLDR Kim Senior says a steady stream of recruits will arrive from the UK over the coming months for a total of 44 recruits over the 2005-2006 financial year.

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The project, spread over a two to three year timeframe, will eventually see up to 160 UK recruits join the RNZAF.

SQNLDR Hugh Graham in his 8th floor Freyburg Building office.

Building on the experience of previous recruitment projects the latest project is aimed at making the transition to the RNZAF as smooth, happy and enjoyable as possible. A key to that relative contentment is ensuring the recruit’s family is well settled.

FROM SKI BUM TO BEACH BUM

The first two weeks of the course involves recruit’s family members - wives and children. The aim is to ensure they are settled and get plenty of advice on schooling, employment opportunities, recreation and generally getting a handle on the kiwi life style and making friends and associates in the local community. SQNLDR Senior says the emphasis on families is recognition that recruit’s partners play a critical role in their decision to stay. ‘If a partner is not happy or feels homesick or isolated that eventually effects the morale and thinking of the recruit, even if they are enjoying their job,’ she says. ‘In the induction we have a module on homesickness and coping with it, but during the first 12 months everyone faces homesickness to some degree.’

SQNLDR Hugh Graham can’t think of much in the UK to make him homesick but he does speak wistfully of the chateau he and wife Dawn used to own in the French Pyrennes. He spent a year there before coming to New Zealand as a ‘ski and paragliding bum’. ‘If anything I’m homesick for France,’ he says. Sounds great but he agrees it was never a long-term career move.

The gas turbine specialist left the RAF in 2004 but he and Dawn had been hankering to live in New Zealand since they toured the North Island in 2001. Unfortunately the RNZAF wasn’t taking on UK recruits at the time. When he heard of the recent project he ‘got in early’ and became only the second recruit to arrive on 14 October.

The number is lower than anticipated because of release times from the RAF. The balance will be included with other lateral recruits in the 2006/07 year. The recruits, mostly arriving in small manageable groups of less than 10 at a time, are inducted over a four-week period before starting work with their host unit.

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www.airforce.mil.nz

‘…the recruit goes home every night and they, together with their family, have a better chance of assimilating into their new life together.’

‘Our desire is for the recruit to spend the majority of their first six months at their posting location, rather than going away for extended periods of training. This is so the recruit goes home every night and they, together with their family, have a better chance of assimilating into their new life together.’

In the third week of their induction recruits are given some basic RNZAF Service knowledge – what forms to fill in, where to go, where to stand on parade and all the little things that make things happen.

The final week sees recruits brushing up on their formal Core Military Skills including survival skills, weapons training and all the extras RNZAF personnel receive annually.

From there it’s off to their unit where some specialist computer software training may be required (ATLAS, Swan, JEMS). Their unit commander will test and assess them over the next six months and compile a report of any training shortfalls that need to be addressed.

Air Force news editor Grant Carr talked to three of the early arrivals and their first impressions are on these pages. In forthcoming issues the Air Force news will present the impressions of new recruits as they arrive. In the meantime you can help by welcoming our newcomers.

An Air Force career man and engineer with ‘eight or nine’ tours in the RAF he’s right at home with an ‘enjoyable job’ (AE2) and a splendid view of Wellington harbour from his 8th floor Freyberg building office in the RNZAF’s Directorate of Aeronautical Engi- neering (DAE). In the RAF he served at the RAF’s Propulsion Research facility at Wyton near Cambridge and was OC of the Queen’s Flight Squadron based at RAF Northholt, but his main area of specialisa- tion was Tornados.

His New Zealand job, part of a wider team, is focussed on devel- oping policy for the future, particularly with regard to upgrades. ‘I’m taking what I learnt about the future and looking to apply it to the present,’ he says. No doubt his experience and knowledge are being put to good use at DAE.

After four months he is well settled in his Raumati Beach home and has joined the ranks of Kapiti Coast rail commuters into Wellington. Dawn is ‘casually looking’ for a job.

‘In Europe we could never afford to live near the beach but now we’re a mere stone’s throw away. Our dog, Jack, has just got out of quarantine and loves it. We’ve got friendly neighbours and we may get a camper van a do a bit of touring. I hear the South Island scenery is stunning. It’s been like coming from 2D to 3D land.’

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