2017 Coastguard Awards of Excellence

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

The 2017 awards were held in Auckland and honoured the brave individuals and their units who provide a crucial life-saving service to Kiwis using New Zealand waterways.

The 2017 Coastguard New Zealand Awards of Excellence Winners are:


Coastguard Rescue of the Year

Coastguard Papakura

A brave little girl who spent four terrifying hours lost in the Manukau Harbour was rescued by the Coastguard Papakura crew. The girl and her father were on their 12 foot vessel when it capsized, throwing them into the water. Coastguard Papakura were alerted and within 25 minutes they were on their way. With the light quickly fading, Papakura’s rescue crew wasted no time carrying out their search – but had no luck spotting the girl or her father. They were soon joined by another crew from Coastguard Papakura and Coastguard Waiuku. In pitch darkness, with the creeping mist limiting their sight even further, the crews were slowly losing hope that they would find the father and daughter. Suddenly, the crew heard a shout for help coming out of the blackness, and soon had the 8 year old in their sights. She was pulled into the boat and wrapped in blankets. The girl had been treading water for four hours – an incredible effort from a brave little soul. Tragically, the crew weren’t able to find the father. But it was thanks to Coastguard Papakura’s unwavering persistence that the girl’s nightmarish ordeal came to an end.


Century Yuasa Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year and the Hutchwilco Volunteer of the Year

David St John, Coastguard Marlborough

There’s no denying David St John is the heart and soul of Coastguard Marlborough. In his seven years as a Coastguard volunteer, he’s maintained the roles of Regional Coastguard Instructor, Coastguard Boating Education tutor, Training Officer, Operations Officer and Media Liaison Officer. His commitment to Coastguard is so outstanding that he’s one of the highest responding volunteers to callouts, and in the past 12 months alone he has dedicated 515 hours to saving lives at sea. A huge achievement for David was when he developed a new training programme for his unit’s new high-speed ambulance rescue vessel, Bluebridge Rescue. He trained all Masters and crew to use the ambulance bay on board, and inducted and trained crew from St John, Fire and Emergency and LandSAR. David is also the organiser of the annual ‘Round the Resorts’ programme where he visits hotels and homestays in the Marlborough Sounds to give staff safety advice, as well as Coastguard Marlborough’s Boating Safety Workshop where over 200 people are given the skills they need to be safe on the water.


Coastguard Unit of the Year

Coastguard Marlborough

Over the last 10 years Coastguard Marlborough have achieved some significant milestones. The successful launch of their purpose-built rescue vessel, Bluebridge Rescue, saw volunteers dedicate countless hours towards fundraising, design, construction, and learning new skills to operate their new vessel. While the process was arduous, it was well-worth it. In only one year since the vessel was launched, more than 100 people were brought to safety.
Coastguard Marlborough have also worked hard with St John to fundraise and construct a purpose-built facility to co-house the two lifesaving teams, significantly improving their response times to people in trouble. They’ve also purchased a second rescue vessel for training, events and back-up search, and created a highly successful free safe boating course for their local community. All of this would not be possible without the passionate and determined volunteers who make up Coastguard Marlborough.


Unit Support Volunteer of the Year

Henry Samson, Coastguard Maketu

A dedicated volunteer for many years with Coastguard Maketu, Henry Samson is an invaluable member of his unit. Not only is he the Unit Training and Health and Safety Officer, he is also a member of his unit’s Board and on the Health and Safety committee for his region. Henry has been instrumental in updating the process of how volunteers manage risk and report incidents. When there was increased pressure on Coastguard Maketu to get crew members through Skipper training, Henry quickly and efficiently trained them, raising his unit’s skill level threefold. Henry is a dedicated and knowledgeable volunteer whose professional and calm manner steadies all in difficult situations.


Communications and Incident Management Volunteer of the Year

Graham Caddy, Coastguard Whitianga

Graham Caddy is a highly respected member of Coastguard Whitianga, and has dedicated an incredible 980+ hours to his unit in the past year. He’s been volunteering for five years and is currently Vice President, SAR Duty Coordinator, Operations Manager, wet crew member, a Radio Operator, Unit Duty Officer and is the Chairperson for his region. This incredible list of roles show how dedicated Graham is, while his professionalism and integrity is unparalleled. Graham also ensures that every volunteer in his unit is successful in their training and development. He continues to build positive relationships within Coastguard, translating in more effective communication during incidents and more lives saved.



Community Relations Activity of the Year

David St John, Coastguard Marlborough

David St John was instrumental in producing and delivering the course content for a series of one day public Boating Safety Workshops offered to over 200 local boaties. The workshops included an informal morning in the Coastguard base with a Coastguard trainer, a free lunch and a trip on the rescue vessel demonstrating safe boating practices, followed by a debrief and attendance certificate. The event showcased Coastguard Marlborough’s ability to engage with key maritime agencies and their commitment to saving lives at sea in the local community through not only accident prevention but also community education. Due to the success of the course, other Coastguard crews are now looking to duplicate the course and Maritime NZ has approved funding for another year.


Donate now

Coastguard is a charity. Our volunteers need your help to save lives at sea.

Donate Now

Become a Member

Peace of mind every time you hit the water, knowing we’ve got your back.

Find out how to become a member

Book a Course

Increase your knowledge and confidence by completing a boating course.

Book a boating course
  • Hutchwilco
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • NZCT
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity
  • Century Batteries
  • Bellingham Wallace