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Coastguard Waiheke Island: National Rescue of the Year Award

Press Release – Coastguard

A courageous rescue effort from Coastguard Waiheke Island has resulted in the Unit receiving the Rescue of the Year Award at the National Coastguard Awards Dinner, held in Nelson on Saturday.30 November 2011

Coastguard Waiheke Island Awarded National Rescue of the Year Award

A courageous rescue effort from Coastguard Waiheke Island has resulted in the Unit receiving the Rescue of the Year Award at the National Coastguard Awards Dinner, held in Nelson on Saturday.

Coastguard Waiheke Island 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 January 8 this year, Coastguard Waiheke was called out to a vessel which had struck rocks at Moturua (Rabbit) 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 was buckling and twisting in the heavy seas and surging against the rocks.

The crew of Waiheke Rescue managed to convince the men to stay onboard despite their intention to jump into a small inflatable – a move which could have proved fatal. Waiheke Rescue then managed to get in close enough to transfer both men safely to the Coastguard boat despite the waves pounding the foundering vessel during the rescue.

With all persons safe and accounted for, Waiheke Rescue battled more rough seas in order to get both men and the crew back to shore an exhausting nine hours later.

Coastguard New Zealand President, Coin Small says, “Coastguard is able to continue the work it does to save lives at sea thanks to the dedication of volunteers like those from the Waiheke Island Unit and we are pleased to be able to honour those outstanding individuals who make it all possible with these awards.”

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 recipients will receive an award that assists in furthering their education and professional development within Coastguard.

Other winners:

Warren Dooney, Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year – Warren Dooney received the Air Patrol Volunteer of the Year Award 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 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.

Nelson Colyer, Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year – Nelson played a pivotal role in the successful rescue of the tug ‘Rakanui’ in April this year. He selflessly took control of the foundering vessel which was at risk of sinking, taking ownership of the salvage pump from the exhausted crew members and helping to bring the water levels to a manageable level. Both men and the vessel were brought back to shore safely thanks to Nelson overseeing the long arduous journey.

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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