2016 Coastguard Awards of Excellence

Coastguard Volunteers have been recognised at the Coastguard New Zealand Awards of Excellence for outstanding contributions to their communities.


The 2016 awards were held in Taupo and honoured the brave individuals and their units who provide a crucial life-saving service to Kiwis using New Zealand waterways. 


The 2016 Coastguard New Zealand Awards of Excellence Winners are:


Hutchwilco Coastguard Volunteer of the Year - Robb Henry - Coastguard Waiheke Island

Robb Henry

Robb Henry has dedicated more than 24 years to Coastguard Waiheke, and has been active at almost every volunteer level of Coastguard, from crew to rescue vessel skipper, Coastguard Instructor to committee member. In the last year alone he has volunteered nearly 1000 hours to Coastguard, participating in dozens of rescues, tutoring scores of Coastguard volunteers, while also participating in the smooth running of the tight Waiheke unit.

Robb’s immense contribution to the Coastguard training exercise programe has helped units train as closely as possible to real life scenarios. He’s been known to scatter flotsam such as chilly bins, old dinghies and life jackets in the training area, to simulate the aftermath of a sinking making the situation more authentic for trainees.

While Robb juggles his personal building practice and other volunteer roles within Coastguard, he’s still always ready to put his hand up. Robb has been a consistent figure at many local call outs, with 2016 being a typically busy year for Coastguard Waiheke with 79 incidents.

Robb is a very public and highly respected figure in his community. His ability to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds holds him in high esteem wherever he goes. Robb Henry from Coastguard Waiheke Island is the Hutchwilco Coastguard Volunteer of the Year.


Mitre 10 Coastguard Rescue of the Year - Coastguard Nelson

Coastguard Nelson

On a windswept afternoon in March a group of people were out walking on Tahunanui Beach and discovered an abandoned waka-ama washed up on the shoreline.

Coastguard Nelson crew Mark Howard, Geoff Morgan, Emmett Mills, Joe Crick, Wayne Ballyntyne, Graeme Richards and Pete Kara’s emergency pagers sounded at 2.54pm – Police informed them of the situation and within 10 minutes the Nelson crew were on the water.

Conditions were rough with a swell of 1.5m -2m and an outgoing tide, as well as a lot of debris in the water. Time was critical. The crew were familiar with the area and commenced a search pattern towards the most likely target area.

A police observer spotted a yellow object in a pile of debris but was unable to identify what it was. The Coastguard Nelson crew proceeded to the area to find the missing paddler clinging to debris and being swamped by the large swell. He was wearing a PFD, but was weighed down by the debris and was losing buoyancy – he was out of breath and struggling to keep his head above water.

He had been in the water for 90 minutes and was swept 3 kilometres off shore, however due to the swift response of Coastguard Nelson the man was rescued only 9 minutes after they launched the rescue vessel. The survivor was brought back to base and the entire operation was completed within 36 minutes.

There is little doubt the outcome could have been much worse if the crew did not respond in such a swift and efficient manner that day.


Century Yuasa Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year - Robb Henry, Coastguard Waiheke Island and Nicola Hockley, Coastguard Canterbury

Robb Henry and Nicola Hockley with Sir Graham Henry, Dean Lawrence and Patrick Holmes

Robb Henry

Robb has volunteered for Coastguard Waiheke for 24 years. He is a Rescue Vessel Senior Master, a Regional Instructor, holds an ISC for the region’s training vessels, and has been involved in almost every volunteer level of Coastguard. Robb is a highly-respected member of his unit and his community. He has the ability to connect with people of all ages and is a huge asset to Coastguard Waiheke.

Nicola Hockley

Since joining Coastguard Canterbury in 2009, Nicola has been involved in nearly every area of the organisation. She is a Master of the units’ CRV, a Regional Instructor, and is on several volunteer boards. Nicola has been instrumental in Coastguard Canterbury’s project to obtain new headquarters after the damage of the 2011 earthquakes which is still underway. Her passion, dedication and tireless work hugely benefit her community.


Coastguard Unit of the Year - Coastguard Nelson

Coastguard Nelson

Coastguard Nelson has gone from strength to strength in the past year. Solid training, recruitment, retention and financial acumen have seen the unit flourish. Its new management structure has shown considerable growth and allowed volunteers to take ownership of decisions. Prior to the new structure the unit was under financial strain with a dwindling membership which was down to 5 or 6 key volunteers. Today the unit has quadrupled its financial bottom line, has a thriving membership scheme and boasts over 20 dedicated volunteers.

The unit has also ensured that training is not just about qualifying crew but is part of the unit’s survival. A culture of change is now widely understood within the unit.


Coastguard Community Relations Activity of the Year - Coastguard Nelson

Coastguard Nelson

The Tasman Bay Snapper Classic and the Boulder Bank Walk are two community events that Coastguard Nelson were heavily involved with. The two events provided Coastguard Nelson with the opportunity to engage with a key sector of water users and promote water safety, as well as showcase their values of respect for the community. They were also highly successful fundraisers raising upwards of $12,000 combined. Both events managed to raise Coastguard Nelson’s profile within the community, promote key water safety messages, increase membership, and raise vital funds.


Coastguard Unit Support Volunteer of the Year - Mathew Hickey, Coastguard Taranaki

Volunteering for Coastguard Taranaki for just over three years, Mathew Hickey has made a big impression in a short amount of time. He has 415 volunteer hours under his belt this year alone, and is his unit’s Safety Officer. Mathew was tasked with the major project of integrating the unit into the MOSS regime, and he met and overcame many challenges along the way to make this happen. Mathew is a team-player, shows compassion for the well-being of everyone he works with, and always goes the extra mile, showing huge potential to become a future CRV Master.


Coastguard Communications and Incident Management Volunteer of the Year - Nick Sears, Coastguard Canterbury

Nick Sears

At just 33 years old, Nick has dedicated 14 years to Coastguard Canterbury. He is a Coastguard Instructor providing training, mentoring and coaching to volunteers and is a Duty Officer for the region’s radio communications. Nick stands out with his excellent knowledge of IT, and is a dedicated and highly respected member of his team, exemplifying great leadership skills and true professionalism.


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