Josey Orum

Helicopter Engine Bay Manager, sportswomen and cultural group member

Of Ngati Kahungunu, Nga Puhi and Nga Mahanga descent, Sergeant Josey Orum grew up in the small town of Wyndham in Southland. In her final year of high school she thought she’d go to university like everyone else. When she saw an Air Force recruiting poster calling for Aircraft Technicians, and with the support of her friend who was joining the Navy, she decided to go ahead and apply for the Air Force. 17 years later she is still enjoying the challenges and variety that the Defence Force and her trade offers.

What’s your job in the Air Force?

I am in charge of a small workshop in the Maintenance Support Squadron at Ohakea.  My team repairs and maintains the engines and gearboxes for the Iroquois, NH90 and A109 helicopters.  We carry out a number of tasks - from inspecting engines that are fitted to aircraft, to full engine overhauls. 

What is your typical day like?

I run four kilometres to work from my home in Bulls. I pick up some breakfast from the Mess (food hall) for my husband, this is because he’s busy taking our two young sons off to day care before work. He is also in the Air Force in the same trade, and happens to work in a workshop two doors away from me.

Then I check emails, and I’ll work with the team carrying out repairs and servicing of the components we have in the workshop. Later in the day I might go to the gym, or attend meetings about work or sports.

Training for sports tournaments is held on Wednesday afternoons, so if I have a tournament coming up I will attend.  All of this is during work time, it’s great to have a job where physical well being and sport are encouraged and supported.

What was your deployment to East Timor in 2007 like?

I went for three months and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my career. It’s what we train for - to go overseas and operate our helicopters to help our allies. The country was beautiful, but such a mess. The people were what really left an impression on me.  A lot of them have next to nothing and were living in little shelters with hardly any clothes or shoes, but they were so happy.  It’s such a stark contrast to New Zealand where we are always striving for the next toy, the next piece of technology, and yet we can be so unhappy about our situation.  These people have nothing yet are happy and friendly, and would go out of their way to help you.

You’re a keen sportswoman, what do you play?

With the Air Force I’ve played Touch Rugby, Squash, Rugby, Volleyball, Softball and Netball. I am Club Captain of the Ohakea Netball Club. I’m also a Crossfitter - Ohakea is the only Military CrossFit affiliate in NZ and I am an active member of this club.  We are currently organising a Military Champs competition for October.

I’m also involved in the management side – I managed our Air Force Rugby League at this years tournament. I’m the Deputy Secretary/Treasurer of the Ohakea Rugby League Club and the Secretary of the Defence Force Rugby League. 

What experiences have you had with the Defence Force Maori Cultural Groups?

I’m a member of the Ohakea, Air Force and Defence Force Maori Cultural Groups. This has taken me around New Zealand and the world, performing for small groups right through to crowds of thousands.  I have met English, Tongan and Maori Royalty, famous musicians and seasoned performers.  I have performed in Tonga, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and England, and I’ve travelled through Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada and Hawaii to get there. As I was a representative, the time and costs incurred in performing at these events were covered.

What have you been able to do in the Air Force that you might not have in another job?

I have a job that offers great variety even within the trade. I’ve gained trade certificates, attended courses in leadership and business management, and I continue to be given opportunities to further my career. I work with a great team of mainly guys in my trade, but they have always been awesome to work with.  You can balance work, extra-curricular activity and family life. I’ve travelled with my sports and cultural groups, even meeting royalty. One day you could be in the workshop, and the next day at Government House dressed in a piu-piu performing a powhiri and meeting the president of Japan!