Coastguard volunteers recognised at 2021 NZSAR Awards 

Volunteers from three Coastguard units were recognised last night for their contributions to search and rescue, receiving special accolades at the 2021 NZSAR Awards. In the absence of Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, His Excellency Dr Richard Davies presented the awards.

Held at Government House in Wellington, the NZSAR Awards are presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievements within New Zealand’s search and rescue region from the past year, which covers 30 million square kilometres.

In the year ending 30 June 2021, New Zealand’s search and rescue sector responded to 2,966 incidents, resulting in 134 lives saved, 595 people rescued and 792 people assisted. There are over 11,500 people involved in search and rescue in New Zealand, with over 90 percent being volunteers. 

Coastguard New Zealand Tautiaki Moana Aotearoa at the 2021 NZSAR Awards: 

Coastguard Whangārei - Certificate of Achievement – Operational Activity


Volunteers from Coastguard Whangārei, alongside Whangārei Police SAR Squad, Northland LandSAR, Far North LandSAR, Ruakākā Surf Life Saving Club, Skywork Helicopters and Whangārei Fire Brigade were recognised for the rescue of a man from Mount Parihaka on 8-11 July 2021. 

The search for a missing man with dementia lasted four days, with more than 120 people bringing a wealth of experience and specialist skills to the operation across coastal, urban, and bush environments. While the missing man who was found sadly died at the scene, through a coordinated effort, all involved contributed to the return of the man to his family. 

Coastguard Whangārei were represented at last night's awards by Unit President Cherie Nelson.

“Across many search and rescue operations, Coastguard volunteers work alongside other agencies to achieve a common goal. Throughout this search, Coastguard Whangārei volunteers conducted themselves in a truly professional manner, with this recognition well-deserved for their efforts,” Coastguard CEO Callum Gillespie said. 

Peter Kara, Coastguard Nelson - Certificate of Achievement – Support Activity 

Coastguard Nelson’s Peter Kara was recognised for his wide-ranging leadership and community efforts both within the unit and the wider Nelson community. In particular, Peter was praised for his “inspirational” and “humble” leadership style and building strong relationships with local community groups and businesses. 

Notably, Peter was celebrated for his efforts in regards to the fundraising, building, and launching of Nelson’s CRV Hohapata – Sealord Rescue. This state-of-the-art rescue vessel was the culmination of 14 years’ fundraising and volunteer project work, with Peter and his team securing a generous $215,000 donation from Nelson-based business Sealord to help get the project over the line. 

“Peter’s commitment, passion and dedication to everything Coastguard is hard to put into words. Over a number of years, his leadership both across the Nelson unit and out in the community has been amazing and we are delighted with his recognition at the 2021 NZSAR Awards,” Callum said. 

Richard Craig, Coastguard Kaikoura - Certificate of Achievement – Support Activity 

Coastguard Kaikoura’s Richard Craig was recognised for his long service and dedication to his unit and Coastguard as a whole. Over the course of close to four decades, Richard has contributed in almost every way possible – from undertaking rescues and completing vessel maintenance to training new volunteers, fundraising out on the street and performing governance roles. 

A couple of Richard’s Coastguard highlights include contributing to the national rebranding of Coastguard in 2004, being part of the crew that rescued two injured sailors in rough conditions following a collision with a whale and the planning and fundraising of over $700,000 for the commissioning of the unit’s purpose-built vessel Kaikoura Rescue in 2006. 

“With over 35 years of service to Coastguard Kaikoura and Coastguard at a national level, Richard’s contribution to our organisation has been, and continues to be significant. Richard’s selflessness attitude and commitment to supporting others makes him highly valued amongst his peers and well-deserving of his accolade at the 2021 NZSAR Awards,” Callum said. 

Well done to all our award winners, thank you for bringing your all to both Coastguard and the wider SAR sector!

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