Young volunteer recongised as Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year

Coastguard New Zealand is delighted to announce Emma Psaila, from Coastguard Titirangi and Auckland as our Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year for 2023. This week, we are announcing all 10 of our Awards of Excellence winners.

As a Senior Crew member at just 22 years old, Emma consistently displays outstanding commitment, fresh thinking, and a strong willingness to contribute not only to Coastguard Auckland, but also to Coastguard Titirangi. As such, she is one of a handful of volunteers serving both the Manukau and Waitematā harbours. 

Emma's passion for Coastguard is evident from the impressive number of callouts she has attended and the additional hours she devotes during regular duty days. Her total contribution of over 400 hours on the water with Coastguard exemplifies her dedication.

Emma likes to lead by example and will be the first to put her hand up to tackle tasks, take on new responsibilities, and actively participate in training sessions. Her "can-do" attitude and willingness to lend a helping hand make her an invaluable asset to both Units. 

Emma aims to become the youngest Master on Coastguard Auckland’s Lion Foundation Rescue, one of the most advanced rescue vessels in Coastguard’s fleet. Since joining at 16, Emma's skills and experience have grown - following in her mum's footsteps; now her dad is part of the crew. 

She is an invaluable trainer for the Unit, and as a mentor, she has been instrumental in assisting new crew members develop their skills and confidence. Her guidance and support have fostered a strong sense of camaraderie within the Unit, contributing to its overall success and growth. 

Emma shows great maturity and composure under pressure. During a risky mission to respond to a distressed boat amid a Cyclone Gabrielle, Emma's calm demeanour and adept risk assessment played a pivotal role in the operation's success. 

When a woman collapsed on a boat earlier this year, Emma and her crew did all they could, including performing CPR for 30 minutes. Sadly, the patient couldn't be revived, but Emma undertook a significant project to improve and standardise first aid equipment across the Coastguard Auckland’s three vessels because of the incident. 

Despite her age, Emma has earned her peers' and skippers' respect and admiration. This respect is a testament to her unwavering professionalism, integrity, and dedication to Coastguard's mission of saving lives at sea. Her commitment to the organisation's values and goals sets her apart as a role model for others to emulate. 

Emma Psaila: "I love how fast-paced it is, how everything is different. It's not just about the boats; I've learnt so much [on and off the water]." 

“[On volunteering with Coastguard Titirangi] I live on the North Shore and want to help as much as I can. The west coast is a lot quieter, so they don't get as much experience. I'm keen to give them more training and help them develop more ideas for the Unit."

Coastguard New Zealand CEO Callum Gillespie: “Emma’s dedication and energy for Coastguard is hard to rival. Both on and off the water, Emma is a volunteer held in the highest regard by her peers, demonstrating her outstanding leadership across numerous incidents and training sessions.

“It also speaks to her positive attitude and commitment to support Coastguard Titirangi through their toughest times following the Auckland Anniversary floods which destroyed their base and damaged their rescue vessel.” 

Coastguard New Zealand also congratulates Simon Marshall (Coastguard Auckland) and Ed Bezett (Coastguard Marlborough) as finalists in this category for their achievements. 


For more information, contact:
Ben Parsons 
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor 
[email protected] 
+64 21 756 405

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