No two days are the same in the Royal New Zealand Navy and sometimes you have to eat quickly to fit all the tasks in, says newly-minted sailor Tayla Taupaki from Whangamatā.
The 19-year-old, who went to Whangamatā Area School and worked in a café for a year before joining up, graduated from basic common training in late June, joining the Navy's ranks as an Ordinary Seaman Combat Specialist.
She passed the 18-week course (normally 16 weeks but extended by Covid-19) with 64 other trainees (43 men and 22 women) and is now tackling her 14-week basic branch training.
Seaman Combat Specialists are experts in the control and conduct of all seamanship operations, including gunnery, boarding of other vessels, security, weapons and seaboat handling.
"I wanted to join the Royal New Zealand Navy because I wanted a career that involves travelling around the world, helping people and having lots of interesting opportunities," she says.
"A highlight of the training was making so many new friends and getting to know them so well that I can call them family."
She says the first month of training was hard but it did get easier.
"Definitely all the running that's involved. And having to eat fast so you can move on to the next task."
Recruits are put under controlled stress throughout basic common training, and coping with fatigue is a factor, she says.
"You need to keep a positive mindset always, and go for it. It's so much fun."
With her move into branch training she's now enjoying a bit more independence and free time, which she intends to take up with sport.
She said it was a hard change moving from civilian life to the New Zealand Defence Force.
"But everything we do in the NZDF we do for a purpose. You never know what to expect the following day."