Coastguard Nelson volunteer wins international SAR award

Experienced Coastguard volunteer Rosie Musters has won the top international award for an individual in Search and Rescue (SAR) at the International Rescue Federation (IMRF) Awards overnight, recognising her outstanding contribution to Maritime SAR operations.  

The award is one of five IMRF awards which recognise volunteer and professional SAR personnel from around the world who demonstrate an exceptional dedication to their communities, ready to help wherever they are needed. 

For over 20 years at a national and local level, Rosie has made a significant volunteer contribution using her breadth of technical and operational expertise to enhance Coastguard’s training and SAR operations. 

Told of her international accolade at Coastguard Nelson’s most recent training night, Rosie was overwhelmed by her surprise nomination and the efforts of her unit to get her recognised. 

“I’m completely humbled, gobsmacked, astounded and lost for words. This would not be possible without having a whole dedicated team around me for so many years. They are like family to me – whether the local Nelson unit or Coastguard New Zealand as a whole, we’re an organisation that genuinely cares about its volunteers,” Rosie said. 

“I’m honoured to receive this award on behalf of all volunteers who are all working towards a common cause as a team. We do this because it matters.” 

Rosie originally joined Coastguard in 2001, setting up and running Coastguard Air Patrol to service the maritime search and rescue needs of the New Zealand’s upper South Island. In 2013, Rosie transitioned to become a member of Coastguard Nelson’s wet crew, bringing her demonstrated experience as a qualified Yacht Master (Coastal and Ocean) and supreme navigation skills. 

In addition to her on-water volunteering, Rosie has spent close to a decade in the unit’s training role – a position that she has made her own alongside her other commitments. Here’s a snapshot of her contributions to Coastguard Nelson and the wider New Zealand community. 

  • Qualified as a Regional Coastguard Instructor - conducting virtual and in-person classes and assessments for volunteers across the country, leading and coordinating local SAREX training with Police and other agencies and planning on-water training. 
  • Arranged for skipper and crew training for Coastguard Nelson’s new all-weather rescue vessel, while helping to write operational and safety manuals for the new vessel and maintains safety drill records.  
  • Assisted with local emergency management services during a recent large bush fire. 
  • Qualified as a local tutor for Coastguard’s Boating Education Service to the general public teaching Day Skipper, Boatmaster, Maritime VHF Operator, and In-water survival courses. 
  • Currently coordinating the local adoption of a revised Coastguard New Zealand training system, to which she also provided input, particularly in the area of navigation modules. 

Rosie also continues to play an important role in the recruitment, training and mentoring of women and people of all ages at Coastguard Nelson – breaking down barriers and making the unit a more welcoming and diverse part of the local community. 

“At Coastguard Nelson, we’re proud that 50% of our new recruits in the past two years have been women, with a crew just on Saturday predominately women. One of the barriers for women in Coastguard which we have addressed is the addition of a built-in flush toilet on-board Hohapata Sealord Rescue. It might be simple, but making these types of considerations can facilitate women feeling confident to pursue the exact same roles at Coastguard as men,” she said. 

“Coastguard are working towards attracting younger volunteers, but there's still a very valuable role for those of us who have retired from our professional lives and can bring expertise and experience into the many shore-based roles that are integral to any rescue operation.”

Rosie was also a key part of Coastguard Nelson’s IMRF award-winning rescue of the yacht Ocean Gem and its 6-man crew in 2020. Rosie was duty officer and Coastguard Incident Manager for the duration of this long and taxing rescue. Her involvement began prior to midnight 18 March 2020 and continued until after the rescued vessel and its crew were safely towed into Port Nelson close to 20 hours later.  

Rosie provided back and forth communication between Coastguard, RCCNZ and Ocean Gem detailing the vessel’s moving position, greatly assisting the Coastguard crew in their search efforts as they navigated a 3-4m swell under the cover of darkness. Rosie was a key contributor to the organisation and management of this rescue and also very involved in on-shore monitoring of the target vessel’s position and drift and managed communication with the authorities and rescue vessel crew. 

Coastguard Nelson President Clive Paul: “We are incredibly fortunate to have an individual like Rosie Musters within our team. She is somebody you can rely upon 24/7 and no matter what is happening, she will always be one of the amazing ones that you can always count on to get the job done in an incredibly professional manner. The boaties of Nelson are so fortunate that she’ll always have their backs and Rosie, and her team, will bring them home safely.” 

Coastguard New Zealand congratulates all winners and finalists at the IMRF Awards 2022. 


For more information, contact:
Ben Parsons
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor
[email protected]

Thanks to our life-saving partners:
  • Auckland Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Hutchwilco
  • Marine Deals
  • Tower
  • Kordia
  • Hyundai
  • Line7
  • Century Batteries
  • Half Moon Bay
  • NZCT
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity