Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

I-Kiribati communications warfare specialist celebrates language and culture

Ashely O’Connor-Palmer. Photo: Facebook.

Ashley O’Connor-Palmer is proud of her Kiribati heritage and is proud of sharing her story and her work within the New Zealand Defence Force.

As part of her role, Ashley handles military messaging, satellite and tactical visual and radio communications. The job has also taken her around the world.

In 2020 she joined the Navy. She has represented the NZDF in the Solomon Islands for the 80th anniversary of the Allied Landings of Guadalcanal in 2022. She then served aboard the frigate HMNZS Te Mana in Canada and took part in operations in Fiji in 2023 while aboard HMNZS Canterbury.

She takes pride in representing not only the NZDF but is equally proud to represent her I-Kiribati culture.

Ashley O’Connor Palmer and her mother for Kiribati Language Week. Photo: NZDF.

“My mother has been a big influence. She brought my sister and I up on I-Kiribati cultural values and practices. For that I am incredibly grateful.”

Ashley says when she wears her uniform it is with the same pride when wearing her traditional Kiribati wear.

“Respect is a value most I-Kiribati people practise and something I bring every day to my work …

“I have a really strong appreciation for our language and culture-especially the dancing! As a child it was something I enjoyed the most. It was hard work learning and training for it, that is what made it rewarding. It’s a very unique style which follows our national animal, the frigate bird,” adds Ashley.

As Aotearoa New Zealand marks Kiribati language week, Ashley says it is important to her to keep the language alive.

Photo: New Zealand Defence Force.

“I keep my language alive by going out of my way to learn more, speaking it at home and teaching my niece and nephew, so they can grow to appreciate the culture and language.

“It’s very in keeping with the theme for this year’s Kiribati Language,” says Ashley

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