Airforce Sergeant Anton McKay is proud that his son Shaquille 19, has successfully completed his training to become an aircraft technician.

"It is important we acknowledge our young people, whatever goal they have conquered and it is part of our role as parents," says Anton.

"Young men in particular need their dad's mentoring and motivating at an early stage of their lives."

Anton and Shaquille are Ngapaerangi, a hapu of Te Atihaunui a Paparangi iwi, from Kaiwhaiki marae, 21 km up the Whanganui River.


"I see youth who don't have direction due to a lack of positive role modelling and it would be good to see more young Maori setting their sights on airforce training because I know what a good career it is."

Anton said Shaquille made his own choice to apply for the training but had plenty of encouragement from his dad on what he needed to get there.

"He knew that he had to work on his literacy and numeracy to pass his NCEA levels," says Anton.

"I set time frames for him to reach his goals and that was good preparation for his training."

During his 12 weeks of training, Shaquille was based at RNZAF Base at Woodbourne near Blenheim.

There he practised physical fitness, drill and parades and learned about RNZAF customs and protocol, trained in military field skills and weaponry, first aid and search and rescue techniques as well as organisation and administration.

"The great thing," says Anton "is that he was paid during training and now he will be on a salary of $45,000.

"That is a decent pay for a young fella and Shaquille is already saving and planning to buy his first home.

"Just another milestone our young people should be encouraged to pursue."

Anton said he hopes his son's journey might inspire other young people to look at airforce training as an option or work on setting goals to find their way into a good career.