Marlborough’s air force base has had a change of command.
Wing Commander Peter De Rungs was officially welcomed onto Base Woodbourne as the new base commander at a ceremony on Wednesday.
Taking over the role from Wing Commander Berni Potha, Peter says the promotion is a “huge” honour.
“Up until a couple of months ago, I had never dreamed of being a base commander,” De Rungs says.
The base commander position is one o three such command positions in the country.
Established in 1939, Base Woodbourne’s primary function is training the air force’s newest officers and airmen as well as providing specialist trade training.
He says it was “quite a process” to achieve the position.
De Rungs, originally from Waiheke Island, joined the air force as an aircraft mechanic 29 years ago.
He completed basic training and spent the first five years of his career at Base Woodbourne.
Since then, De Rungs has been stationed all over New Zealand, most recently at the New Zealand Defence Force headquarters in Wellington.
“I joined up as an aircraftman, at the very bottom,” he says.
“There’s only three base commanders, and now, I’m one of them.”
De Rungs says the work is what drew him to the region but being in Marlborough closer to family was a big part of making the final decision.
“I love everything about Marlborough, it’s a beautiful part of the world,” he says.
De Rungs says he has secured the position at a time of great change within the air force.
He says there is currently work underway to “realign technical work and trades”.
“Logistics training is going to change,” he says.
Today, Woodbourne is the Air Force’s only support base and has no operational squadrons based there.
“I am excited and privileged at the prospect of being part of a team that welcomes and trains our future ground trade technicians and the future leaders of our Air Force,” he says.
One of De Rungs’ goals as the new base commander is to enhance the air force’s connection with the local community.
He says the air force brings people from around the country to Marlborough.
“We need to be mindful of the community and our impact on it,” he says.
“I want a real connection and visibility with the community, because we all came from the community.
“And once we finish in the air force, we all go back to the community.”