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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Defence industry excellence award winners named

Businesses that have gone above and beyond to support Defence during the COVID-19 response are amongst the winners of the Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry. 

Announced by the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short, and the Secretary of Defence, Andrew Bridgman, eight businesses have won awards for work that spans aircraft and ship maintenance, virtual reality software development, and cooking services.

Mr Bridgman said the last year had reinforced the importance and value of strong relationships.

“The finalists this year reflect our focus on partnership, and those businesses being recognised today have risen to meet all the challenges thrown at them,” he said. 

“Congratulations to the winners for their hard work and excellence. It is a real pleasure to acknowledge the people and companies who’ve gone the extra mile.”

“The work undertaken by this broad range of companies has been invaluable to Defence in an unprecedented and challenging year,” Air Marshal Short said.

“These businesses have helped to keep our Defence Force operating, despite COVID-19 restrictions.”

An awards event planned for March to celebrate the winners was cancelled due to COVID-19. In its place, Defence officials will meet the winners in a series of bespoke events. 

Defence spends $900m annually on goods and services, much of which is spent locally.


Innovation Award – Staples VR is an Auckland-based creative technology company contracted by the Royal New Zealand Navy to develop a virtual reality simulator that trains ship’s crew in the launch of floating decoys used to counter missile threats. The simulator means Navy can train without having to launch a decoy, saving time and money, and moving to an “anytime anywhere” learning environment.

Provision of Product or Service Award – CAE New Zealand installed a state-of-the art NH90 helicopter simulator at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ōhakea despite travel restrictions preventing specialists coming out from Canada. Their work with local companies and RNZAF personnel was innovative and ensured critical pilot training could be carried out. 

Strategic Partnership Award – During periods of COVID-19 lockdown, Babcock NZ created a system that essentially split the Devonport Navy dockyard in half to ensure the safety and continuance of maintenance and service when required. 


Tū Kaha (Courage); Keith Auterson, Safran: Keith has gone above and beyond in his work to maintain NH90 and A109 helicopter engines at Ōhakea, advocating for the best solutions for the Defence Force. Keith is prepared to challenge accepted practices and advocate for change to lift aircraft performance.

Tū Maia (Integrity); Lucy Sykes, Sykes Legal & Consulting: Lucy provides legal advice to the Ministry of Defence’s capability projects, with a level of commitment beyond her remit and far exceeding expectations. 

Tū Tika (Commitment); Gordon Jones, City Rewinds Ltd: City Rewinds has worked closely with the Navy to maintain and repair damaged equipment, at short notice and with tight timeframes, and as a result operations have stayed on schedule.

Tū Tira (Comradeship); ESS: ESS overcame multiple challenges to continue to provide catering services to large numbers of New Zealand Defence Force and other government agency personnel during the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack, and throughout periods of COVID-19 lockdown. 

Whakatara (Challenge); Graham Walker, Terra CAT: Mr Walker helped to deliver the CAT938K Loader and the CAT555D Skidder to Army Logistics. His enduring commitment, passion and innovative approach saw the successful customisation of commercial off-the-shelf vehicles into amphibious operations vehicles. 

More information about the awards, including videos about the winners and finalists, is available here.

The Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry were introduced in 1998 to highlight and acknowledge the contribution made by industry to Defence. They are administered by the New Zealand Defence Industry Advisory Council on behalf of the Minister of Defence.

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