The newspaper Stuff reported on 14 October 2017 – ‘Soldier killed in exercise a “first class gentleman” ‘
A member of the NZ Defence Force Special Operations Force died during a counter-terrorism training exercise in the waters off the Coromandel Peninsula north of Auckland.
The Sergeant, a father of four, died after falling about five metres during a board operation exercise involving a container ship which was en route to Auckland.
Seafarers work in a dangerous environment. There are more deaths among those who work at sea than any other industry. For this reason, seafarers are often very spiritual people.
Paul White of the Ports of Auckland Ltd contacted the Seafarers ‘ Centre on the afternoon of Friday 13 October requesting that a chaplain conduct a service on the container ship early on Saturday morning 14th October. A disaster affects all those involved either directly or indirectly. Although the Ship’s Captain and Chief Officer were present on deck at the place where the death occurred, the commemoration and blessing service was specifically for the Port Workers who were to work the ship that morning.
Sailors’ Society Auckland Port Chaplain, Major David Millar and his wife Ofelia responded to the call. Over thirty POAL workers were present in their white overalls. They needed to maintain and return to their normal routine as soon as it was possible.
Chaplain Millar used these words in the closing prayer of the service:
“Today we meet together in sorrow and pride of this soldier who died during this counter-terrorism training exercise. We thank God for all that he was and all that he still is to so many, especially his family. Almighty God, Creator of the heavens and the earth and the sea. You have entrusted us with the gift of life. We see Your power and beauty in the sky, the moon, the stars You have put in place. For the colours of the sky, the light, purest in the early morning. We rejoice in the life and beauty of the world of nature which You have so wonderfully designed. God you have ordered this wondrous world, and You know all things in earth and Heaven. Fill our hearts with trust in You that by day and night at all time and all seasons we may without fear commit those who are dear to us to Your never failing love for this life and the life to come.”
Paul White then conducted a karakia, (a Māori form of prayer) and chaplain Millar concluded with prayer in English.
Chaplains from the Auckland International Seafarers Centre perform a number of ceremonies during the year including ship blessings, blessings of the fishing fleet, and seafarers’ funerals, and hospitalised seafarers are visited.