James Faleofa receives the RNZN Sailor of the Year


James Faleofa, who received the Royal New Zealand Navy’s ‘Sailor of the Year 2022’ award, is a youth development specialist of Tongan descent.

He is stationed at the Tri-Service Youth Development Unit (North) in Whenuapai, where he helps motivate young people and build their self-confidence; teach teamwork, resilience and life skills.

Chief Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor, in announcing the award, said: LYDS Faleofa had been recognized for his passion, professionalism and devotion to duty.

LYDS Faleofa was a respected sailor who led with humility and respect, setting an example for students, peers and the elderly, he said.

As well as running programs such as six-week limited service volunteering courses for unemployed 18-24 year olds who are not in education or training, the Youth Development Unit (UDJ) supports 29 service academies within secondary schools, fostering skills and values ​​to help secondary school students play a positive role in society.

LYDS Faleofa was part of the internal services academy at Kelston Boys’ High School and was inspired to join the Navy by Warrant Officer Ngahiwi Walker’s stories of life at sea.

Now he dedicates his personal time to the academy and has opened his family home to students from his former school for physical training sessions, mentorship and advice.

Initially, it was the idea of ​​playing sports for the Navy, and the opportunity to travel that seduced LYDS Faleofa.

When he joined in 2009, he found that the academy had given him a great foundation for life of service, and thankfully the basic common training didn’t come as a shock.

Additionally, James Fale’ofa said, “I had done induction camps, we do a lot of team evolutions and we are taught leadership framework, at high school level.”

cook training, LYDS Faleofa discovered a passion for cooking and traveled all over the Pacific on deployments and always raised her hand to go to sea.

“Giving back is something I’ve always wanted to do. I just didn’t know when I could do it. When I saw this I thought, this is me, this is the time. The Navy gave me a lot of tools, and I can put those tools to good use.

In 2020, LYDS Faleofa has expanded her efforts through an initiative called “Fahi On,” opening her own after-work home to former and current Kelston Boys High School students striving to be the best they can be.

James Faleofa said: “My wife and I started this little gym. When I’m at the service academy, I talk to boys who have a lot of potential but are distracted by nonsense. They come to us, about 8 to 10 boys a day, to PT sessions. »

He added that they are boys who can have fun, who have cousins ​​who do drugs, who are a little lost and don’t know what to do. Sometimes a boy would message us, asking for help and saying he wanted to join the services before something went wrong.

“For many of them, it’s about building resilience. My wife does a lot too, telling them what it’s like to partner with someone who’s in the Navy.

Now, three Kelston Boys High School alumni are currently in Joint Basic Navy Training, slated to graduate in December.


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