Archive Newsletters

Newsletters and blogs will be archived here for member’s use and interest. NZMS tutor and lecturer Louise Deehan-Owen blogs here regularly. However, for her most recent newsletter blog, please go to latest newsletters.


As we enter the second half of the year there is plenty to report on in the training sector. The New Zealand Maritime School has expanded its campus and now the MIT Warkworth Campus is part of this long-term training facility. Many students will be familiar with the fire training facility and hot fire ground, but much more is offered from the Warkworth site.

Under the direction of well-known maritime identity Rusty O’Kane, the Warkworth campus offers a range of maritime qualifications. Rusty is a foreign Going Master and brings a wide body of experience to the job – both internationally as Master of offshore support vessels, and anchor handling tugs, as well as the local domestic industries of towing and charter. Rusty has a passion to pass on his experience and skills to students.

The Warkworth Campus offers programmes of study from Qualified Deck Crew (QDC) to Skipper Restricted Limits (SRL) and the Super Yacht Crew Certificate.

The QDC and SRL programmes are designed for the ‘at work learner’. These courses integrate the Maritime NZ Training Record Books, at-work learning, online learning, and contact courses. For the QDC programme of study, all learning is based around the workplace with courses for firefighting, sea survival and first aid being the only school-based contact required.

Having the SRL based at either Warkworth campus or the waterfront Auckland city campus gives learners at the New Zealand Maritime School a choice as to where they may wish to stay if travelling from out of Auckland to study. Planning for 2018 will ensure that candidates for SRL will have a choice of nearly continuous course cover, with required contact courses alternating between sites. This will provide candidates and companies with more SRL dates than were available in the past. Students are also able to complete part SRL deliveries at both sites to ensure maximum flexibility.

Another programme delivered at the Warkworth campus is the super yacht crew. This is popular with school leavers and those who wish to gain employment in the super yacht industry overseas.

The super yacht crew programme offers students the opportunity to gain the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) Power Boat Level 2, Competent Crew and Proficiency in Water Craft certificates. These individual certificates are recognised internationally and are required for the operation of the small vessels that are carried on-board these large yachts. This course is also used a s a pathway to employment in the New Zealand commercial industry as it provides students with valuable introductory skills and practical experience. This programme pathways and prepares the student to complete the Chief Mate Yacht Certificate of Competence that is recognised worldwide and delivered at the NZMS Auckland city campus.


We are all getting used to the organisation of the Skipper Restricted Limits (SRL) and the endorsements associated with this Certificate of Competency. These are mandated for by the Maritime Rule Part 32 – Ships Personnel – Qualifications. These endorsements all cover specific operating situations and only the ‘passenger’ and ‘high speed’ require time back at school. The others are covered by a mmix of ‘on the job’ training utilising a  Training Record Book and sea service.

We have recently been approached by some in the industry to see why we have been promoting the addition of another endorsement – a ‘towing’ endorsement. We have (apparently) been discussing this with Maritime NZ. This is a surprise – as we have not had any  discussions, nor promoted the subject with anyone at all. This amounts to scuttlebutt but it must have come from someone. After ringing around, we believe that there have been discussions about a towing endorsement for the SRL. Talking to the major commercial players in the industry, with the exception of Port Operators, it appears that these main commercial operators had not initiated( nor we part of) any discussions.

Towing in a unique industry. There are so many variables that it would be hard to build a ‘one size fits all’ course. Basic knowledge is covered in the SRL through to the Master 500 GT NC courses.

If we look at the aft deck of a towing vessel, we see everything from ‘H” posts, rope winches, wire winches, tow hooks and a combination of these. If we consider vessel propulsion, we have a mix of single screws, twin screw, azimuth drives and Voith Schneider units. Individual vessel  handling characteristics and aft deck arrangements vary much from vessel to vessel.

Risk and towing are synonymous and there are good tools to enable owners to manage these effectively. The current ‘Maritime Rule Part 19 – Maritime transport operator – certification and responsibilities, often abbreviated to MOSS, and also the ‘Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 have requirements for the management of risk in any operation. It is mandatory for owners and operators to develop safe plans for their towing vessels, the training of their crews and the constant reassessment the hazards associated with these.

Companies involved in towing operations will have plans for the maintenance and inspection of the towing vessel and deck gear. There will be safe operating procedures relevant to the vessels operations and the jobs that they are engaged in at any one time. Constant training and review of these by all on-board are now requirements of the modern operating environment.


With the new Maritime rules and transition requirements for many licences there must be a vehicle for people who wish to obtain a higher licence rather than transition to the same level licence. Many will have planned to take this next step regardless of the new Rules coming into force.

There appears to be some people who have approached this process by  obtaining an assessment of sea service from Maritime New Zealand and have then been informed that they have to transition first and then rwqualify their sea service. The thought of having to pay, complete the transition process, and then re-serve sea service under the new document is cumbersome and unjust  – and it was probably not the intent of the regulator.

Some people can expect to be asked to do a bit more than the current requirements to bridge a gap existing due to the structure of the new rules. We must remember that when persons area transitioning that each decision is made on the merit of each case and the ability to put together a cohesive document that tells your story. This is essential to Maritime NZ understanding your request. The people mentioned above contacted Maritime New Zealand, the decisions were revisited by the agency, and good solutions and options were the result.

Unfortunately  many mariners are wonderful orators and not writers, so this can be a daunting task. It is worth getting assistance and an outside view on the presentation of your application before submitting. This is also true when applying to have sea service verified or assessed before progressing to the next new licence level.

Our advice to persons who get responses from Maritime NZ that appear not to be fair and consistent is to review their submitted documentation and get back in contact with Maritime NZ. Even though the letters sent often appear formal and confrontational, these are mostly template letters designed to follow the legal requirements of the regulator. There are people at the end of the phone to discuss options with.

In many cases transition and progression arrangements  are taken on individual merit so no two outcomes are identical. Often information is missing or presented in an ambiguous manner. When that is the case, Maritime NZ staff can only make their judgement on what is provided. Many students have benefitted from having discussions with Maritime NZ before resubmitting documentation.

We suggest more than ever that mariners keep good records of their sea service, maritime educational achievements, additional certification and any company training that is done. All training is relevant, and documenting time of other vessels, shoreside training, and duties on board are essential for building a picture of what you have done and the experiences you have had. After all, in this audit driven world, a story is only a story unless it is backed by evidence.


According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘legacy’ can mean ‘something that is left or handed down by a predecessor’ or, within a certain context it may be something that has been superseded. Most who hold ‘legacy certificates’ will be pleased to know they are still alive and kicking – not quite superseded.

A maritime certificate is named a legacy certificate if it was issued before the former Maritime rule, Part 32 was first published. These certificates have been superseded not once but twice.

There has been some murmuring that Maritime NZ is going to require all those holding a legacy certificate to complete the courses for the new certificates. The Master Restricted Limit Launch (RLL) and Master River Ship (MRS) are topical examples. After consultation with Maritime NZ, and in accordance with their transitioning document, there is no one course of action for the holder of these legacy certificates. All applications are treated on an individual basis, depending upon the request and the requester’s experience. Maritime NZ has no blanket policy to make mariners complete current training courses, with the exception of ancillary certificates such as First Aid.

To transition into the new system you must: state the certificate you hold and nominate the certificate you want to transition to; provide sea service evidence to support that request; fulfil the ” fit and proper person’ requirements; be of good character; be medically fit, and have good eyesight.

When transitioning with the two certificates mentioned previously, there are a number of options. The option you request may depend upon your sea service and experience.

For example, if you are a MRS holder, currently the Master on a large high speed passenger vessel close to 500GT, then you would want the SRL endorsed to 24m and 500GT with the ‘high speed’ and ‘passenger’ endorsements. By operating compliantly in the current regulatory environment you must have kept up with developments and changes. You are current and competent.

If, on the other hand,  you gained your RLL in 1981 and left the maritime industry in 1984 to pursue a career, say, in local body politics and now wanted to, in your retirement, run a charter vessel fishing from Pauanui ( this is fictitious) you would probably be 31 years out of date – or at least out of practice.

Your ideas and knowledge would belong to a historic industry. While seamanship may remain the same, practices and technology have moved forward at an exponential rate. Even this fictitious character could transition if they wanted to upgrade their knowledge and practice. This may be the gaining of current sea service or a refresher course or a combination of both.

These options cater for current and past practitioners within the industry but just as people’s stories are varied and complex, so too is the system for recognising this. If you want more information or run a scenario past me on your route towards transitioning, I am happy to listen and offer feedback.

Training now for tomorrow

There has been a reported nationwide decline across the industry in the number of people undertaking training at the New Zealand validity licence level.

This decline is seen mainly through the entry level qualifications. Many state that the economy dictates that there is no discretionary funding available for training, while others state the tightening of the job market leans towards a tendency for people to stay in their current positions. With less opportunity for advancement, there is a lesser need to train.

This may be true at present for the positions of many in the industry but as the world economy starts moving and opportunities arise, we may again be in a position of not having qualified persons for the jobs that exist at the skill level demanded.

The current level of training is not sustainable for the age of many people in the  New Zealand validity areas, and the fact that opportunities exist for the New Zealand qualified persons abroad. It is acknowledged that the need for command licences at present is met in most sectors, but if we fail to create a pathway for people through the entry level courses such as CDH and ILM, then these people will not be ready to advance to higher levels as is required.

Those who obtain an Inshore Launch Master’s Licence today, whether they are placed in a command position or not, are the New Zealand Offshore Watchkeepers and Offshore Masters of tomorrow.

A second concern has emerged within the licensing system. With the tight job market in New Zealand, many people are heading offshore into the superyacht industry. We need the national market to encourage young people wishing to enter the superyacht industry to utilise the New Zealand commercial licensing system as a primary pathway. By completing licencing qualifications in a dual pathway systems, students can future-proof their qualification and allow for greater diversity in employment opportunities.

For employers, it means access to appropriately qualified internationally experienced people for the New Zealand market. An example of this training is the ability to complete the NZOM and the Chief Mate Yacht concurrently here at the New Zealand Maritime School.

Finally, some people have been awaiting the outcome of the QOL review before commencing training. The reality is that the changes, whatever they will be, will be along time away. Licenses gained now will not be invalid, but if not gained, time toward the next licence level will be lost.

The single biggest regret of many of our students is that they waited too long to train or progress. Even if you don’t need the next level of licence today, think about the opportunities created for tomorrow.

The Captain Mike Little Award … and the winner is…..

The Captain Mike Little Award has been presented to Randall Bower, a student at the New Zealand Maritime School, for his dedication to maritime studies. (shown below right with some attractive “company.”)

This award is presented by the Maritime and Seafood Educators of Aotearoa, with its membership representing New Zealand Technical Institutes, Polytechnics, Private Training Providers, Wananga, and Industry Training Organisations.randall bower with the girls

The award is in memory of Captain Mike Little, an exemplary maritime educator, with a passion for assisting and extending the students in their learning journey. Mike was known for his ability to communicate with, and challenge students in a learning environment well ahead of its time.

The New Zealand Maritime School nominated Randall Bower, and it was with much pleasure that on 1 April this year I emailed Randall and informed him that he was to be presented with the award. The significance of the date was lost on me and poor Randall after contacting friends was informed it would have to be an ‘April Fools’ hoax. I had to do some quick convincing.

Randall began his official maritime education nearly a decade ago at Mahurangi Technical Institute, under a Rangitahi scholarship studying toward a National Certificate. After leaving Mahurangi, Randall went surface and bottom long lining around the New Zealand coast. In 2004 he started his sports fishing career on the Independence and then the Striker, which took him to Port Villa charter fishing.

With a taste of foreign ports Randall then ended up in Kona, Hawaii, freelancing for the game season before catching a dream job on the well known M/Y Ultimate Lady. The Lady took him again offshore, before the need for education came again and Randall ended up at the NZ Maritime School in 2007.

As a student studying for New Zealand Offshore Masters, Randall gained a reputation for being a hard worker, applying himself to the task, and persevering when challenges arose. As a classmate, Randall encouraged and assisted others.

After gaining his New Zealand Offshore Masters Licence, Randall continued his dream job run heading to Dubai as First Mate on M/Y Seaquest and Captain on M/Y Seaquell. Over the past years Randall kept in contact with email news, flying back to New Zealand to complete ISM, ISPS courses, and additional modules for Chief Mate Yacht 3000t. Over the past years Randall has become a long term student of the school, a mentor to others who are studying, and a role model for young Maori.

Randall displays a professionalism and maturity beyond his years, illustrated by his impressive career.
Randall in now the Chief Officer of the M/Y ‘Ultima III’, a 188 ft, 1049GRT Aberking and Rasmussen motor yacht operating both in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Our congratulations go out to him!


Get your sea legs on dry land

By Robin Bailey

Steve Willoughby, a Maori from Rawhiti in the Bay of Islands, has pretty much the dream job.

Aged 42, he lives in Dubai. On top of a big salary he gets six-weeks’ holiday a year and a ticket to anywhere in the world and has a free luxury apartment. As he says: “If you find the perfect job you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”

But with the job there are big responsibilities. He is in charge of several super-yachts located in different countries, the largest is worth more than US$45 million ($67 million).

He trained at the New Zealand Maritime School, upgrading his Master’s Certificate to 3000-tonne super-yachts and says he knows seven graduates from the school working in Dubai.randall and steve

“The work, well that’s exacting. A large part of my job entails being a perfectionist. Super-yachts are maintained to an impeccable standard and as a skipper you need to be able to respond immediately to a call that requires you and the ship to go anywhere in the world,” says Steve, shown at right with another NZMS graduate Randall Bower at the Monaco boat show.

“When you are there you need to be ready to entertain the owners and their guests to an amazingly high standard. There are no menus. You have to provide what they feel like eating at any time.”

Part of his role is also scouring the world for the latest maritime technologies.

“The super-yacht community is a small one. If my boss sees or hears of something new he will want to know if we should have it. So a lot of my time is spent reading to keep up to date with world wide developments.

“I have pretty much an unlimited budget to ensure that the ship is 100 per cent perfect. That is all the owners are interested in, not the details. Even so, vessels are managed like a small corporation and every dollar spent is accounted for.”

He says New Zealand and Australian skippers and crew are popular in Dubai because they are reliable, have initiative and know how to get things done.

“In our industry you have to do a great job, build your reputation and not burn any bridges. People in our business want to employ the best. And that’s what you have to be. Every morning I play Inspector Clouseau looking for possible blemishes in the condition of the boat. The crew call me obsessive and I am. In the world that I work in nothing can be second best.”

For his present training he could have chosen other accredited providers in either Fort Lauderdale in the United States, Antibes in France or within Britain. But says he prefers the tuition in Auckland.

“All the tutors at the New Zealand Maritime School are professional mariners with a wide range of industry experience throughout the world. They have great practical knowledge.”

Steve says the course is intensive. Lectures and practical training runs from 8am to 4pm each day and students often have to study well into the night.

“There are no short cuts in this business. Getting certification opens the door and you have to put in the hours to master the course work. Education is the key. It may not be easy but you have to do it. You have to find your dream and live it – and don’t stop until you get there.”

Part of Steve’s training is on the school’s computerised training simulator, which has recently had a $1.6 million upgrade. One of the first new generation simulators in the world, the computerised simulator takes up half a floor at the school building in Quay Street and gives an intensely realistic experience of being at the helm of any of 42 different ship models in any of 38 international ports.

Head of the school, captain Tim Wilson, says the simulator uses five data projectors to show screen computer generated images on the windows of a replica ship’s bridge.

“This system has more realistic weather conditions than ever before, giving a dramatic feeling of movement. This is also helped by movement and sound generators built into the floor of the room.

“We are in elite company with the only comparable simulators currently located in the US and Europe. This means we are increasingly on the shopping list of people seeking advanced training qualifications and to improve operating practice on their vessels.”

He says a majority of the students doing the advanced superyacht masters’ certificates are people who are based overseas.

The school has more than 80 years’ experience in maritime training and its qualifications are recognised internationally.

Part time job leads to career at sea…. and now in teaching!

It was a part time time job on a tug that put New Zealand Validity lecturer Louise Deehan-Owen off course and set her on a career that has spanned 20 years on the water.

“While studying at Teachers’ Training College and university towards a teaching qualification I had a part time job as a tug deckhand for the Blue Boats company,” explains Louise. “I had always wanted to teach, but the more I did of teacher training I thought this is definitely not me, while the more I worked for Blue Boats, I was absolutely hooked on tugs.”louise

Louise took a year off from her teaching studies to work full time on the tugs and obtained her first ticket while undertaking a variety of tug work, from sailing and berthing ships, to navy contracts, coastal towing, construction work, rig servicing and research work.

She went back to training college and continued to work part time on the tugs up until her graduation, but it was the call of the sea rather than the classroom that eventually proved stronger and saw Louise opt for a maritime career.

In 1989 Louise took a full time job with Gulf Ferries as a Mate / Relieving Master working on the Quick Cat and other ferries. She obtained her Engineering Ticket in 1996, continued to work as Master on the high-speed ferries, and then became a Relief Duty Manager, which involved her in company training.

It was at around this time that Louise’s first love, teaching, came to the fore once again and she saw new challenges ahead that combined education and her experience at sea.

“I feel very passionate about education and believe people should have the absolute best training possible because they are dealing with life on the water,” says Louise, who joined the New Zealand Maritime School in 2001 as a New Zealand Validity specialist.

“In New Zealand we have a huge water resource and we have a lot of people out there, whether it be on fishing vessels, passenger ferries, or charter boats. Education is helping us move into a better safety culture and that has to be pushed because people at sea do die and that has to stop.”

Towards this goal, the New Zealand Validity Tickets play key roles, ensuring people are equipped with the skills and safety awareness they need to keep themselves and their crews safe at sea.

New Zealand Validity Tickets are necessary for people working on commercial vessels operating within the New Zealand 200 mile economic zone – this includes fishing vessels, tugs, passenger ferries and charter vessels.

“One area that has grown significantly in the past few years is this country’s charter industry, which has in turn resulted in a large numbers of people involved in charter work attending the New Zealand Maritime School to obtain qualifications. Like me, these highly qualified operators are attracted by the school’s professionalism and high standards,” says Louise.

Approximately 450 students attend the Maritime School’s New Zealand Validity courses each year, as they study towards a range of tickets, including Advanced Deckhands, Local Launch Operators, Inshore Launch Masters, Offshore Watchkeepers and Offshore Masters.

From a Deckhands Ticket to Offshore Master’s Ticket takes a minimum of four years to achieve, with the New Zealand Validity Tickets working in a “stepping stone” fashion. Students work on their vessels to accrue experience time, then attend block courses at the Maritime School where they must pass written and oral exams to allow them to finally sit a Maritime Safety Authority oral exam to earn their Validity Ticket. Once one has been obtained they begin working towards the next ticket level.

For Louise being a woman in what has traditionally been a male dominated industry has never been an issue. “I have not met with any resistance or had any problems,” says Louise. “The most important thing is to have credibility and after nearly 30 years I’m well known in the commercial maritime industry – on every course I have either skippered a vessel that one of the students in the class works on, or I know their skippers!”