Drug free with the world at his feet

18 April 2011

Volunteering to do a pre-employment drug test landed Daniel Milner a full time job with Medea Fishing Co Ltd based in Russell, Bay of Islands. 

Nat Davey with Daniel Milner off on the high sea of success.

Nat Davey with Daniel Milner off on the high sea of success

"Instead of drinking on the weekends I saved up my money and did the test, proving that I was drug-free which made me a desirable employee", Daniel offers.  "That got my foot in the door and the rest was up to me to prove myself".

And prove himself he did.  After a week at sea Skipper and co-owner Nat Davey offered Daniel a fulltime job.  Working two vessels, the Madea and Florence Nightingale IV, the company fishes the northland coastline catching their annual quota of crayfish and wet fish such as hapuku, blue nose, shark and tuna.

"I was really happy with the way Daniel proved himself during the week.  He did a lot of work and I couldn't have asked for more so I offered him a position", Nat explains.  "I suggested he go home and discuss the opportunity with his family and girlfriend which he did, and two days later he rang to confirm he wanted the job".

And it isn't just any old job Daniel has landed himself.  Once Daniel has enough sea time (which is usually 18 months on a commercial vessel) the company will pay for him to complete his Skipper Ticket. At a cost of $2000 the company considers it a great investment in their staff.  "They look after us while we are out at sea so our motivation is to give something back".

As permanent crew Daniel works three weeks on and one week off getting paid for the entire four weeks.  The first six months are known as an apprenticeship after which time he will be paid a retainer plus a percentage of the catch.

Daniel's future is looking extremely bright not just because he has a job but also because the company he works for will help him save for his future.

"Our mum does all the paperwork and sets up a savings account for the boys if required", Adam explains.  "Making a contribution to kiwi saver and putting money away each week means that when they want to buy a car or house they have the money saved up".

21 year old Lanson Fraser, Skipper of Florence Nightingale IV is a perfect example of how well the saving scheme works.  Lanson, also from Russell, started going out to sea with the company in the school holidays when he was 12 and by the time he was 16 realised that his future was in fishing.

"I got my skipper's ticket on Medea a few years back and when I wanted to buy my own home last year I had a decent deposit which was really cool", Lanson offers.  "I also have plenty of money for toys and cars, the things us guys want but usually can't afford".

In 2009 the company asked Lanson if he would like to run his own crayfish boat they were considering buying.

"The guys said if I didn't want to run it they weren't going to buy it so I was well chuffed.  We went over to Perth in December 2009 and brought the boat back which took two weeks in very rough seas.  I have been running Florence Nightingale IV for a year now - it has gone really fast".

And if Randall Bower, an ex staff member of the company is anything to go by Daniel has some other very big footsteps to follow in.

"Randall started his fishing career with us, then a raw 17 year old from Rawhiti.  Last year he was awarded the Captain Mike Little award for his dedication to maritime studies", Nat says with pride. "Today, as Chief Officer on the 57.3m luxury vessel "Ultima III " cruising the Mediterranean and Caribbean, Randall is now well and truly living the life of the super yacht set".  Exciting footsteps indeed.