National | Diversity

More women within RNZN

The number of women serving in the Royal New Zealand Navy is on the rise, now making up nearly a quarter of the naval service.

The face of the RNZN continues to change as more women sign up to sail at sea.

Warfare specialist Rangimarie Cherrington joined in 2012.

“I've been able to make a career out of my life.  I've been able to travel just like I wanted to, make life-long friends and it’s pretty much the foundation of, I guess, growing up,” she says.

In 1981, women constituted 8.3 percent of the RNZN.

Deborah Te Kani was one them, she says, “It was something different, and it was a challenge, because back then not many women were in the defence force at that time, but now there's a high percentage”.

In 1989 the RNZN authorised the permanent employment of women at sea.

John Cameron, who served as a marine mechanic, says, “I served on HMNZS Monowai with the first women at sea. It was a really great experience, and I think for women going forward it really has set a benchmark for the forces and what women are doing at sea right now”.

Deborah Te Kani says, “I think it's a good thing that women can go to sea and they're all equal and it gives women opportunities so they can travel the world just as much as guys can”.

Rangimarie Cherrington says, “I've been to Hawaii, all the Pacific Islands, New Caledonia, Australia and Antartica”.

There are now approximately 500 women in the Navy.

Deborah Te Kani, “I'd say the discipline and the friendship that you had then you still have 30 years later so there's a great camaraderie”.

Cherrington shares the same view, “Camaraderie, for one.  I've grown really good relationships and they've turned into family”.

Te Kani says there's a need to continue to recruit more women into the RNZN.