2014 Coastguard Awards of Excellence
These awards celebrate excellence in achievement by Coastguard volunteers across the many roles they undertake in serving both their community and the organisation at whole.
The awards are aspirational, providing an opportunity for acknowledgement at both a Regional and National level as well as amongst their peers and show successful candidates as role models who exemplify the Coastguard values of: respect; altruism; integrity; dedication; professionalism; co-operation.
2014 Award Winners
Hutchwilco Coastguard Volunteer of the Year and Century Yuasa Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year: Heather McDonald, Coastguard's Sumner Lifeboat
Heather McDonald from Coastguard’s Sumner Lifeboat received top honours for 23 years of dedication and unwavering support to saving New Zealanders’ lives on the water.
Heather received the Hutchwilco Coastguard Volunteer of the Year Award and the Century Yuasa Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year Award.
Heather has been a valued member of Coastguard’s Sumner Lifeboat since 1991 and over the last year participated in 13 Search and Rescue and Coastguard operations. As well as the time she gives to her own unit, she gives up weekends to travel to other units to train their volunteers too.
Many congratulations Heather!
Mitre 10 Coastguard Rescue of the Year: Coastguard Mana
Congratulations to Coastguard Mana, who received the Mitre 10 Coastguard Rescue of the Year Award.
After lunch on Tuesday 4 March, volunteers from Coastguard Mana were paged about an incident involving two fishermen in the Cook Strait. The men had set off early that morning to catch tuna in a four-metre open runabout when they lost power, unsure of their location.
With Cyclone Lusi bearing down from the north, the Coastguard Mana crew departed Mana Marina in search of the men. In six-metre seas and with the Interislander ferry sailings cancelled, the volunteers assessed they had a mission window of three to four hours
The crew managed to pinpoint the fishermen in a high risk operation and increasingly treacherous conditions within two hours and brought them to safety.
Peter Feely, Coastguard volunteer and President of Coastguard Mana, recalls, “The end result was two fishermen and five Coastguard Mana crew safely returning to base just in time to beat a sharp weather change to heavy rain, high winds and a drop in temperature as Cyclone Lusi made its mark in our area.”
Coastguard Unit of the Year: Coastguard Lake Taupo
Gary West, Unit President: "Coastguard Lake Taupo deservedly won the Coastguard Unit of the Year Award with judges commenting the unit is very definitely ‘punching above its weight’ and engaging with the local community, including with iwi and a range of community groups.”
Well done to all of the Lake Taupo volunteers – saving lives on New Zealand’s largest lake.
Coastguard Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year: Gordon McKay, Coastguard Canterbury Air Patrol
Gordon McKay received the Coastguard Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year Award. You may remember Gordon from his work on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, showcased on Campbell Live earlier this year.
Gordon holds a number of volunteer roles for Coastguard and has developed exercises instrumental in bridging the gap between air and sea rescue. You may remember Gordon from his work on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, showcased on Campbell Live earlier this year.
Gordon puts his heart and soul into Coastguard Canterbury Air Patrol for the benefit of his community and is a richly deserving award winner.
Coastguard Communications and Incident Management Volunteer of the Year: Don Scott, Coastguard Lake Taupo
Gary West, President of Coastguard Lake Taupo commented, “Don demonstrated leadership and unwavering commitment rescuing two young men when their dinghy capsized in rough open water conditions on Lake Taupo in January.
"He is an active member of the Eastern Region Search and Rescue focus group, has written radio procedures, is the duty officer for callouts for the Lakes District and assisted in the writing of the Incident Management manual for Coastguard New Zealand."
Coastguard Unit Support Volunteer of the Year: Geoff Wilkie, Coastguard Northern Region Communications
Geoff Wilkie from Coastguard Northern Region Communications was awarded Coastguard Unit Support Volunteer of the Year.
David Tommas, CEO of Coastguard Northern Region commented, “Geoff is a quiet achiever who puts others first and is dedicated to our mission to save lives at sea."
He's made a massive contribution in raising the quality of training for radio operators while juggling many balls in the air, including the smooth transition during a technology upgrade. Thanks to Geoff’s skills, the communications team will have a full complement of 64 well-trained volunteer radio operators this summer.”
Coastguard Community Relations Activity of the Year: Coastguard Waiuku
Coastguard Waiuku were honoured with the Coastguard Community Relations Activity of the Year Award
The unit won the award for nine activities, both on and off the water, which lifted the unit’s profile during the MayDay Appeal while sharing and educating the community about boat safety, the role of Coastguard and safety on the water.
Jeff Millen, President of Coastguard Waiuku sums it up: "Connecting with the community through education, boating support and our volunteers is what drives our community relations activity. No activity is ever seen in isolation but rather a stepping stone to the next opportunity to educate, grow our unit, sign up new members and to raise funds.
"For Coastguard Waiuku, it’s all about connecting with our community, sharing our time and expertise, putting what we have learnt into practice and when it counts most, delivering life saving support to all who need us."