Emergency Services recognised with NZSAR Awards


The lifesaving and heroic actions of a special group of emergency service personnel were recognised with New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) awards in Auckland recently.

The rescue of a family of three thrown from their vessel while trying to cross the Port Waikato Bar in May 2019, has seen Kariaotahi Surf Life Saving Club, Coastguard Waiuku, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, NZ Police Air Support Unit, Coastguard Papakura and Coastguard Northern Communications awarded with a NZSAR Gold Award in Operational Activity.

While the rescue of four people from a sinking vessel 37km off the coast of Cape Brett in October last year, has seen the Maritime Operations Centre, Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, 5 Squadron - Royal New Zealand Air Force, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and Coastguard Bay of Islands awarded with a NZSAR Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity.

NZSAR Secretariat Manager Duncan Ferner says both rescues were time-sensitive operations that challenged the search and rescue teams to think outside the box.

“The extraordinary teamwork, communication, careful planning and strategic action shown by all groups involved was crucial to each successful outcome,” he says.

“These rescues are both fantastic examples of multiple organisations working effectively together in challenging conditions – and the awards recognise the merits of that collaboration.”

“The vital work carried out by these agencies is the product of hours of training – and the support of the people in their clubs, units, groups and their family and supporters.”

In New Zealand, search and rescue activities are carried out by a host of agencies and 95% of the people responding are volunteers.

Coastguard New Zealand Chief Executive, Callum Gillespie, describes volunteers as the heart and soul of the SAR sector.

“Working with our SAR partners to save lives is a large part of what Coastguard does. All agencies bring different skillsets to the job and I am immensely proud of all our volunteers who were involved in these challenging rescues,” says Gillespie.

The NZSAR Awards are held each year to recognise the courageous people and groups involved in search and rescue in New Zealand. Usually held at Parliament in May, COVID-19 restrictions meant the cancellation of the 2020 ceremony. This year’s recipients will receive their awards in special presentation ceremonies around the country in lieu of the annual event.

Coastguard Bay of Islands

Coastguard Northern Communications

Coastguard Papakura

Coastguard Waiuku


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