Blogs (Media Centre)

Seafaring TAFE Digital student studies at sea while sailing African, PNG and Australian waters

TAFE Digital

Seafaring TAFE Digital student studies at sea while sailing African, PNG and Australian waters

Harry Tokoragi-Peters climbing aboard Reef Encounters

13 January 2020

The career of one St Ives school leaver is sailing ahead at a rapid rate of knots as he chalks up thousands of nautical miles’ seafaring experience with NGOs Sea Shepherd Global in Africa and YWAM Medical Ships in Papua New Guinea, and now with Reef Encounter – a Great Barrier Reef tourism and diving vessel.

After completing his HSC, Harry Tokoragi-Peters took a gap year in Europe and noticed that one of the Sea Shepherd Global vessels had berthed in Italy for maintenance.

“I managed to get a hold of the ship manager and secured a cabin as a volunteer engineer to spend a few weeks onboard helping the ship prepare for their next campaign in West Africa.  This is when my love for the maritime industry became a passion,” he said.

Mr Tokoragi-Peters spent the following three years onboard Sea Shepherd Global vessels working as third mate, then second mate, and more recently as chief mate.

“During my time at sea, I have been part of multiple fishery patrols in a variety of West African nations, including Liberia and Sao Tome,” he said.

Mr Tokoragi-Peters decided to embark on studying a Diploma of Maritime Operations with TAFE Digital, to obtain his Master 500GT certificate.

“It was tremendous that I had the flexibility to study online, while continuing work in international waters,” he said.

“Part way through completing the diploma, I also volunteered for a few months as a third mate onboard YWAM PNG, a 60m hospital ship that travels around Papua New Guinea to provide health care services for remote communities.”

By choosing to study the diploma through a blended delivery option, Mr Tokoragi-Peters was able to maximise his time at sea.

“Time allocated to me completing the diploma included three separate months’ study in Sydney, and two months between each study block for self-paced online learning,” he said.

After thousands of nautical miles sailing international seas, Mr Tokoragi-Peters is happy to have returned to Australian waters.

“I recently joined Reef Encounters as Ship Master of a 35m / 700 gross tonnes tourism and dive vessel, which I live aboard in the outer Great Barrier Reef region,” he said.

Mr Tokoragi-Peters still has his sights firmly set on developing his future career and is currently waiting to hear back from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to sit an oral exam to obtain his next certification as Officer of the Watch Unlimited.

“The maritime industry is well and truly in my blood and I intend staying at sea for the foreseeable future,” said Mr Tokoragi-Peters.

“Eventually I see myself wanting to enter the business/compliance side of the industry though, and I would love to study a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nautical Science, followed by an MBA, with a focus on shipping management.”

To see TAFE Digital’s hundreds of exciting courses across a wide variety of modern industry sectors, please visit

Media contact: Bonny Gunn, TAFE Digital Media and Communications Business Partner.  M: 0417 134 048