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Think you have what it takes to spy for New Zealand? SIS looking for new recruits

"There are no Aston Martins and not too many Martinis - but there's a lot of cool gadgets."

Applicants should be observant, have a good memory and be a good driver, among other requirements. Source: 1 NEWS

That's how one New Zealand spy describes his job at the Security Intelligence Service.

'Jim' has been a surveillance officer for almost 20 years - and for the first time he's being allowed to talk to 1 NEWS about his job.

That's because the SIS are launching a recruitment drive in Auckland today. 

Surveillance officers are the front-line of the spy agency, who keep an eye on people who have been deemed a threat to national security. 

SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge says: "Sometimes they will be in cars, sometimes they'll be on foot, but it is their job to observe what is going and to provide that information to the service."

Jim explains: "We are the eyes and ears of the organisation and we are there to collect information that is not possible to collect in any other means. It is not nine to five. But it could be 9pm to 5am. It's not behind a desk  - you are out and about in society every single day."

He says potential recruits need to be very observant and have a good memory.

"Awareness, a little bit of street savvy is always good. You need to be resilient and you need a good level of integrity and trustworthiness. A good sense of humour is always nice, a competent driver - we spend a lot of time in cars and driving around - keen sense of observation and good memory recall," he says.

We want is a workforce that reflects the community that we serve - SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge

"It is about paying attention to your surrounds and if you are a keen people watcher - it is just picking up on the small traits and the details and being able to recall that at a later date."

Surveillance officers also have to be able to blend in.

"We are out in the public eye. We can't hide but we can't be noticed," he says.

So, the SIS is looking to recruit people from Asian, Maori and Pacific backgrounds. At the moment more than two-thirds of its staff are Pakeha.

Ms Kitteridge says it's a challenge because staff must be New Zealand citizens.

"Because we serve a very broad and diverse community what we want is a workforce that reflects the community that we serve," she says. 

Jim says the job can be risky, but those risks are "controlled". He also gets to work with "expensive" kit. But few people know what he really does for a living - including close family. 

"It is a job that you really are giving back to New Zealand. It is unrecognised for the most part but there is a massive amount of satisfaction for doing a job that is really important . 

"It's got variety, it is exciting, you need a lot of patience on other days, but on the whole you never know what you are going to be getting into that day. And it really does make a difference."

The recruitment campaign is called 'Beyond Ordinary' - and wannabe spies are encouraged to apply via the website. But they must keep their applications top secret.