On April 17th, Henree Worek from Santo, Vanuatu became only the second Ni Vanuatu PADI Instructor but the FIRST to graduate in Vanuatu. He has pioneered the way for other Ni Vanuatu to become dive instructors after undergoing local Instructor Development training and a local PADI Instructor Examination.
Born in 1967 on Motalava Island in the Banks Island group, Henree has always appreciated the water. His enthusiasm eventually turned to diving. In 1999, he gained his PADI Open Water Diver certification at Aquamarine in Luganville and has never looked back. Going on to eventually become a PADI Divemaster and recently, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, Henree is following in his parents footsteps, both being teachers because he wishes to teach anyone who is interested in diving.
After completing the leaving certificate at secondary school at Vures High School on the island of Ambae, Henree furthered his education at Institute National Technology Du Vanuatu in Port Vila and Honiara Technical Institute in the Solomon Islands. He also attended TAFE colleges Australia. Henree eventually enlisted in the Vanuatu Navy and trained with the Royal Australian Navy as an engineer. In this role he traveled extensively around Australia and Fiji. He has worked as a tour guide on the island of Tanna, taking visitors to see Yasur, one of Vanuatu’s active volcanoes. He has also worked as a dive guide/boat master/engineer for various dive operators in Vanuatu.
For several years now, Henree has worked as a teacher of engineering at the Maritime College in Luganville, Santo. During that time his involvement in diving has remained purely recreational. But when Henree heard that there was a PADI IDC and IE coming to his own home town, he seized the opportunity to further develop his diving career. And so began his development to become a PADI Instructor. It was back to the books to study that dreaded Divemaster theory again, all of which eventually came flooding back.
The IDC was conducted in Luganville home to the Coolidge, the largest accessible shipwreck in the world. The Course Director was myself, David Ballard. Assistants were PADI IDC Staff Instructors, Mick Whitmore, Dale Byrne and Mark McCrum. Although an Alternate Location IDC, the course came under the umbrella of Aquatic Adventures in Melbourne. Training was held at the Deco Stop Lodge, hosted by Cathie de Koeyer. The Deco Stop Lodge is perfect for IDC training and an ideal base for diving the Coolidge. It has a huge conference room, swimming pool, restaurant (with bar!) and easy access to local open water dive sites. Some of Henree’s IDC training dives were done on the Coolidge site as well as the famed Million Dollar Point.
Henree was accompanied on the IDC by six other candidates from different parts of the world. Jen Spry was one, originally from New York and now functions as Manager at Aquamarine. She was Henree’s buddy during the IDCE. She also helped translate some of the theory into Bislama, Henree’s first language. Other candidates were Deena Lipkies, an Australian ex-pat now residing in Costa Rica, as well as four candidates from the William Angliss Institute of TAFE in Melbourne: Stephanie Lawlor, Jacqui Price, Kat Vcelka and Joel White. We also had the company of a Sydney candidate, Gareth John, during the Instructor Examination only.
PADI Asia-Pacific sent experienced Instructor Examiner Richard Evans to officiate the exams. This was the first IE that PADI have conducted in Luganville and hopefully there will be many more to come. Richard is one of the most relaxing speakers to listen to and soon put at east the nervous candidates.
After two days of exams, presentations, rescue evaluations and skill circuits, all eight candidates together with Henree were celebration their graduation as PADI Instructors. Henree was the first of many to be thrown in the pool! Richard retired prematurely to his accommodation. I wonder why?
Henree has decided to stay in Luganville to work full-time as a dive instructor and train other Ni Vanuatu divers and hopefully instruct them to the PADI Divemaster level. Two problems teaching locals have been language barrier and the time commitment needed for instructors to teach the Divemaster theory. Hopefully those problems have now been rectified with the addition of Henree to the Instructor ranks. The snowball effect will then bring more and more local divers to leadership level. A few locals have already shown Henree an interest in diving.
Henree would like to further develop his Instructor rating by going on to become an EFRO Instructor and a PADI Specialty Instructor. Who knows what the future will bring. I’m hoping he will eventually become a PADI IDC staff Instructor and help other Ni Vanuatu IDC candidate through the Instructor development process in Vanuatu at our future IDCs.
Special thanks should be given to Barry Holland at Aquamarine for his logistical support as well as Cathie de Koyeur of the Deco Stop Lodge for the use of her facility. I can recommend their respective business very highly.