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Source: New Zealand Defence Force

22 July 2020

When Raewyn Tailby contemplated her future work choices at age 45, she decided semi-retirement was out of the question so she filled out an application form to join the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

The former police officer and Adult Education specialist from Kaeo and Kaitaia is following in the footsteps of her husband William, a former hydrographic officer, and son Dylan, currently a Supply Officer in the RNZN.

On 18 July, Midshipman Tailby graduated as a Learning Development Officer (LDO). Because of her qualifications she was promoted to Sub Lieutenant and will now progress to NZ Defence College for two years, undertaking courses in learning development and adult education. When qualified, she will provided specialist training and guidance on learning to New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) commanders and units across New Zealand. The work includes creating training courses, developing instructional standards, and providing personal development advice to NZDF personnel.

“I wanted to do something meaningful for the last chapter of my working life, and my husband and son thought I would enjoy this. They talked me into it, saying I could join the Navy as an education officer. I sent my CV in, filled the forms out, and then got a letter saying I was accepted. I thought, ‘heck, I better get off the couch and do some running’. So 5.30am every morning, I was running endless laps around Kaitaia College.”

She was proud of her fitness and credits it to preparation and being “a bit of a hard girl from the Far North”.

Sub Lieutenant Tailby undertook the five month Junior Officer Common Training, a course that this time ran five weeks longer because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“And people were very much younger than me … you need to go into this with an open mind,” she said. “Things won’t always go as expected, but embrace the challenge, and go back to basics. Treat others as you wish to be treated.”

Initially she had to salute her son, and her husband finds it amusing that all the things their son learnt from the Navy that used to annoy her, are now ingrained in her. Another son has applied to join the Navy for next year.

“I get bored really easily, and have to be challenged. At 45 years old, I’ve raised four kids into decent human beings. Where does it say in the rulebook I have to sit back and watch TV? Life is too short for that.”