Nathaniel Goza loves the Ōtaki RSA.
The former Air Force network enginner is happy to be part of what he says is a progressive and welcoming club.
“I’ve been in Ōtaki two years, and I’ve found the RSA here really warm and welcoming.”
Nathaniel was born in the United States but raised in Christchurch. He married his wife, Teresa, who has links to Ngāti Raukawa and is studying a masters degree in Mātauranga Māori at Te Wananga o Raukawa. It seemed natural, then, that they would come to Ōtaki to raise their own family.
Nathaniel joined the Air Force, inspired as a youngster after watching the Top Gun movie.
“I wanted to be fighter pilot,” he says. “I ended up being a communications and information systems technician, mainly setting up computer links with aircraft.”
He had three tours of duty overseas.One was to East Timor in 2002 working on radio operations. Another two were in the Solomon Islands – radio operations and supporting 3 Squadron Iroquois helicopters in 2003, and in 2006-07 when he was part of the first deployment of Territorials (now Army Reserves)since the Second World War. He also did a short assignment in the Middle East as a network engineer in charge of all radio and IT systems.
Nathaniel joined the Ōtaki RSA not just for the social aspect, but also because he wanted to advocate for modern veterans – those who have served in the military in recent times.
“The local RSA is great, but I believe that generally, modern veterans are frustrated at the lack of support they receive. Various charitable trusts are stepping up, and the RSAs should be leading veteran support initiatives, but I don’t see that happening. Modern vets are lacking a voice on their behalf.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s helped because many of the older veterans who have served in conflicts look down on the modern veterans, as if their service was not as important.
“The reality is that modern service people sign up with the understanding that they could be called on at any time to go into a war somewhere in the world.
“Modern politics in New Zealand means we’re more likely to go into a peace-keeping situation, but that is largely irrelevant.”
Nathaniel left the Air Force two years ago but continues to serve in the Air Force Reserves.