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Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year

Press Release – Coastguard

Cantabrian Awarded Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year Nelson Colyer from Coastguard Canterbury has received the Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year Award at the National Coastguard Awards Dinner, held in Nelson on Saturday. Nelson received …

Cantabrian Awarded Coastguard Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year

Nelson Colyer from Coastguard Canterbury has received the Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year Award at the National Coastguard Awards Dinner, held in Nelson on Saturday.

Nelson received one of six annual national awards given to individuals and Coastguard units whose contributions to the organisation were recognised, as the New Zealand Coastguard community came together to honour the year’s achievements.

On April 23 this year, the tug ‘Rakanui’ issued a distress call to Coastguard. Situated three miles off the coast of Motunau, the vessel was taking on water and was in imminent danger of sinking. Vessels from Coastguard Canterbury and Coastguard’s Sumner Lifeboat were dispatched to assist.

In the moderate sea conditions and a 2m swell, it took Pub Charity Canterbury Rescue (PCCR), over an hour to get to their location. Upon arriving, Nelson ‘Rakanui’ jumped on board to secure and take over the salvage pump on the stricken vessel from the two crew who were extremely exhausted and feeling the effects of the swell and noxious fumes from the now flooded engine room.

Nelson single-handedly pumped sea water from the tug, working both above and below deck. His actions were successful and enabled him to control the level of water to a point that would allow the tug to get back to Lyttelton.

With both crew of the tug exhausted, Nelson elected to stay on board the tug and pilot it back to Lyttelton while the crew rested, a long arduous journey of four hours. Blue Arrow Rescue provided support on the way back, however they had a crew member ill and engine difficulties. The salvage pump was secured to the side of the tug and Nelson had to stop repeatedly to prime the pump and clear water from the tug singlehandedly.

Coastguard New Zealand President, Colin Small says Nelson received this award, not only for his heroic role and selfless commitment to this rescue, but for his enduring commitment to Coastguard with five years of volunteering under his belt.

“Nelson is one of the more senior Canterbury crew in age yet he continues to show great determination, attitude, stamina and grit. Nothing is too much trouble and he continues to set a good example to the rest of the members.

“Nelson has a great sense of humor and the Unit benefits from his wealth of engineering experience that can apply to many different situations. For Nelson, and the Canterbury Unit, the rescue of the tug “Rakanui” and her crew was a truly heroic achievement – one that we are all very proud of.

“Coastguard is able to continue the work it does to save lives at sea thanks to the dedication of volunteers like Nelson and we are pleased to be able to honour those outstanding individuals who make it all possible with these awards,” says Mr Small.
Coastguard is New Zealand’s primary provider of marine search and rescue services. It is made up of highly-trained volunteers who put themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis to ensure the safety of people at sea. This year 2,224 brave volunteers brought 6,996 Kiwis safely back to land and devoted a significant 348,346 hours to keeping New Zealander’s safe on the water.

“This year’s award winners have all shown outstanding service to Coastguard and their local boating communities, and our sincere thanks goes out to those volunteers for their commitment to saving lives at sea,” says Small.

There are six categories for the awards –
TracPlus Volunteer of the Year
Doug Griffin Coastguard West Coast
Rescue of the Year Coastguard Waiheke Island
Operational Volunteer of the Year
Stephen Clews Coastguard Whakatane
Chevron Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year
Warren Dooney Coastguard Auckland Air Patrol
Chevron Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year
Nelson Colyer Coastguard Canterbury
Special Commendation – Earthquake Recovery Coastguard Canterbury Sumner Lifeboat
Waimakariri Ashley Canterbury Air Patrol
The individual award recipients will receive a prize that assists in furthering their education, and professional development, within Coastguard.

Other winners:

Coastguard Waiheke Island – Rescue of the Year – In January this year, Coastguard Waiheke Island was called out to a vessel which had struck some rocks at Motorua Island in the Coromandel. The crew had already been out on the water for four hours attending other calls but raced out to assist the stricken boat which wasn’t coping well in the rough seas. The crew managed to convince the men to stay onboard despite their intention to jump into a small inflatable which could have proved fatal. Waiheke Rescue then managed to get in close enough to get both men on board safely despite the waves pounding the foundering vessel during the rescue.

Warren Dooney – Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year – Warren Dooney received the Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year for performing well above expectations. Warren has made training and volunteer recruitment a priority for the Unit this year which has been extremely successful and all of his dedication and groundwork will hold the Unit in good stead.

Doug Griffin, Volunteer of the Year – Doug’s strong social and community spirit has been clear during his 14 year tenure at Coastguard. His passion and organizational skills have lead to him becoming the Unit’s only Skipper while also acting as the Training Officer. As the only member of the unit holding a Certificate of Competency qualification, Doug turns out for every rescue, on water training activity and SAREX.

Stephen Clews, Operational Volunteer of the Year – Stephen Clews from Coastguard Whakatane was recognised for his work with the Unit’s technical projects. He played a key role in the radio communications upgrade and new vessel research and development. Stephen is also a Senior Master actively involved in marine search and rescue. At a Regional level, his input into the Centralised Radio Communications Hub proof of concept has been greatly appreciated.

Coastguard Canterbury – Special Commendation – Coastguard’s Canterbury, Sumner Lifeboat, Waimakariri Ashley, Coastguard Air Patrol and Kaikoura units showed dedication beyond the call of duty when it came to assisting those in need after the region’s two devastating earthquakes. Volunteers from many of the units worked tirelessly together and their professionalism resulted in many commendations from other agencies who had been impressed with their efforts. The training that Coastguard employed at this time proved invaluable with Civil Defence adopting many of their processes as good practice. During this period, Coastguard personnel from many units gave over 5000 hours of service.


About Coastguard New Zealand:
Coastguard is the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service. The organisation operates from a network of four regions and 71 affiliated units, located around the coastline and major lakes of New Zealand. Coastguard New Zealand is a volunteer organisation with a charitable status. It has more than 18,000 supporter members and 2,244 active Professional Volunteers who provide around 350,000 hours of their time each year to educate, protect and help save lives at sea. Coastguard performs over 3,000 rescues each year assisting almost 7,000 New Zealanders. There are currently 72 dedicated rescue vessels in Coastguard New Zealand’s fleet, 10 air patrol units and one dedicated communications unit. All crew members on board Coastguard vessels and air patrol craft are trained search and rescue personnel working to enhance the safety of all New Zealanders when they participate in boating and water activities.

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