Sue Tucker inducted into Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show Hall of Fame

In late May, Coastguard Community Ambassador Sue Tucker was inducted into the Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show Hall of Fame, recognising her decades of tireless work and effort around water safety in Aotearoa. A surprise accolade presented to her on the final night of this year’s Boat Show, Sue became the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame.

To learn more about Sue’s reaction to this prestigious award as well as her extensive career and passion for all things water safety, we sat down with Sue for a quick Q&A.

Congratulations on being inducted into the Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show Hall of Fame, what does this special accolade mean to you?

I am immensely proud and humbled to be recognised for my contribution to promoting and supporting safer boating and the marine industry. I have reflected over the years in the past few weeks and commended my colleagues and the industry for all their unconditional support.

A quote that is close to my heart is “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I have found a true purpose in the work I have done.

As the first woman to be inducted, what does this mean to you and what would your advice be to other women in the industry?

I am honoured to be recognised for this distinguished and prestigious induction. Being the first woman to receive this induction is a celebration to woman following behind me and to be recognised for their contributions and leadership. My advice to women in the marine industry is to participate fully with inspiration, leadership and integrity. As a role model there will be great opportunities to engage with communities nationwide. As women have a natural ability to be compassionate, listen and engage with their audience, we can make a positive contribution to boating safety. The benefits of knowledge and safety equal boating with enjoyment.

With more than 45 years in the marine industry, including many years advocating for water safety and launching various initiatives, are there any particular highlights of your career to date you'd like to mention?

1/ Back in 1975 during my time at Yachtspars NZ, the government placed a huge tax levy on the local marine and caravan industry. The marine industry was facing a huge dilemma and many companies closed up. The management team at Yachtspars decided to head offshore and find new markets as the tax levy didn’t include the export market. Yachtspars went into overdrive. Telex’s would come in daily from Japan and Taiwan for 100s of spares and fittings. My role was to keep the quotes and orders rolling. After a year of hard work and huge success with the offshore market, Yachtspars won an export award. That was my introduction to commitment to the marine industry. It was a tough time, but with a strong team we succeeded.

2/ As the Waterwise for Schools Parent Support Coordinator 1991, there was a demand to recruit new immigrant parents as support instructors as schools were enrolling increased numbers of new students with English as a second language and to include them into the Waterwise programme was difficult without a translator. I coordinated the recruitment and training of parents of new immigrant students to assist with the translation and delivery of the Waterwise programme which ensured all children could participate. After many years of supporting Waterwise as a volunteer I joined Coastguard Boating Education Service. There I developed the Safe Boating and Day Skipper Experience programmes for schools. During my years of coordinating and delivering the Day Skipper Experience, which included a practical boating experience I would often hear young secondary school students say “Hi Mrs Tucker... it's great to be back on the water… it’s just a larger yacht” or “Mrs Tucker…. I’m now working in the marine industry.” Giving young people the opportunity to enjoy boating with confidence has been a privilege.

3/ During my time at Maritime NZ I was involved in producing a Safe Boating in NZ DVD. This resource was successfully produced because of the support and collaboration of key stakeholders e.g., Coastguard NZ, Regional Councils and Sponsors. The distribution of this resource to the boating community was outstanding. One example was a middle-aged man who picked up a copy at a Boat Show and paid to come back the next day for another copy for his mate. He said it was better than Coronation Street….and in his mind that was exceptional!

4/ While delivering the Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade Campaign I was astounded athow many people opened up about their boating experiences. Having someone to share their story with and to gain practical tips from was very reassuring. So often people would say “do you know how many lives you are saving… keep the excellent campaign on the road and we’ll see you again soon…please come back.”

You were heavily involved in Coastguard's Old4New campaign as Community Ambassador, what do you think makes this particular campaign so popular across Aotearoa?

Without question, community engagement. When you can provide a service to meet the needs of each individual and organisations that engage with the campaign on route e.g., local Coastguard units, regional council navigation safety teams and sponsors e.g., Boating Outdoors, everyone gets something out of it. We learn from each other and tell another story.

Water safety continues to be a major issue for New Zealand, over the years, have you seen changes in behaviour and responsibility on the water?

Definitely… It’s positive to see a good cross-section of all communities upskilling in Boating Safety and engaging in the Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade campaign. The messages and campaign need to stay alive and consistent to ensure it reaches high risk groups.

What would you love to see more New Zealanders do on the water with regards to water safety?

Have effective communication to call for assistance and know how to operate the device e.g., VHF radio, EPIRB or PLB and mobile phone. Have a plan that works for them in the area they are boating as well as the importance of keeping them dry and available. Old4New could in time include a communications programme to ensure everyone has what they need out on the water.

Congratulations Sue! 

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