Joshua Kauika came from poor beginnings but found ways to achieve what he wanted.

Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in Wanganui in a family of six children, which included two sets of twins. My father taught me how to free dive when I was younger and since then I have had an obsession with the water. He may have been tough at times, but I feel that I am a better person for what I learned from him.

What is a typical day at work like?
It varies. We usually have an hour of training in the morning and then afterwards it could be a dive job on one of the navy ships, equipment maintenance or another job, somewhere in New Zealand or around the world. The job always keeps you on your toes and it's very busy.

What has been a career highlight?
Definitely diving. Seeing massive sunfish on a night dive at Great Barrier Island was a great experience. Diving with hammerhead sharks in the Gulf of Oman was another. Exploring a world that not a lot of people get to see makes for something special.


Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
When I was younger we couldn't afford some things that I wanted to do, so I would get out there and find a way to do them myself. For example, I wanted to give gymnastics a go when I was little, so I worked at the gym just so I could practise.

What was the best piece of advice you've received?
When I went back to speak to my old school recently I used Sir Peter Blake's quote, "The hardest part of any big project is the beginning." It pretty much defines my life and how I see things. If I hadn't done all the groundwork and committed to the long days and nights of training, I wouldn't be here today.

What annoys you?
Not a lot really, I'm fairly patient, but if I'm leading a dive and we get out there and one of my divers doesn't have their kit to do the job then that ticks me off. It just defeats the point of all of us being there and we have to drive back to get it before we can start.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still in the navy. Hopefully another rank up and ready to move on to another challenge. Until then, though, I'll be enjoying every minute of my current role.

As a leader, what is the secret to getting people to share and support your vision?
The team has to respect who's leading them in that direction and feel like they are part of it. Gaining their respect is the hardest part and you can't force that, you have to earn it. Throwing your weight around will just lose you the respect of your team members.

Who is the best boss you've had?
The boss I have at the moment. He has great aspirations for the Navy Dive Team and gives the job everything he has. There's nothing that he wouldn't do for us and he always thinks about the team. I'd follow him anywhere.

What is the best part about being in the Dream Team?
My visit to my old school in Wanganui made me feel really proud and I hope it inspired the students to get out and try new things, so they can find the thing they truly love to do. There is no greater accomplishment in life than being happy and living life to the fullest.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a nice guy, who loved and had a passion for the water. Hopefully they'll share stories of all the big fish I've caught over the years too!

If you could give your 15-year-old self some wise advice, what would it be?
Be confident. Twenty seconds of courage is all it takes sometimes. Study hard, because you never know when you may need something in the future, and always treat others with respect - it goes a long way.

Joshua Kauika
Royal New Zealand Navy 2013 Sailor of the Year. He is a leading navy diver and member of the Sir Peter Blake Trust Dream Team.