Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry recognise private sector contribution

Line of Defence Magazine - Update

Tree Trim and Earthworks
Sub-contractor/SME of the Year Service: Tree Trim and Earthworks Limited. Image: Ministry of Defence.

The 2023 Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry were presented on 7th May at Parliament House by Hon Judith Collins KC with winners across three categories and five special categories.


Since 1998, the Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence have highlighted and acknowledged the major contributions made by industry to New Zealand Defence.

This year’s winners include a Manawatu construction company, which built the new Maintenance Support Facility at Linton Military Camp, and a family-owned South Auckland based company that provides specialist maintenance services for the Special Operations Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats.

“Many of the recipients are small-to medium-sized New Zealand businesses, providing a diverse range of services and equipment to the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence,” said Defence Minister Judith Collins.

“New Zealand’s innovation and economy is bolstered by their investment in local people, businesses and supply chains,” she said.

“Many of the recipients are small-to medium-sized New Zealand businesses, providing a diverse range of services and equipment to the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence.”

Associate Defence Minister Chris Penk commented that the relationship between Defence and industry was deep and long-standing.

“The award recipients are trusted partners and collaborators with Defence,” he said. “They have proven their commitment to New Zealand’s defence and security through their supply of world class products and services.”

Via a LinkedIn post, NZDF Director of Industry and Internal Engagement Debbie Howarth noted that it was an honour to be part of the Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry.

“It is so uplifting to focus on the great mahi of a cohort of suppliers each year,” said Debbie. “This year was no different with so many amazing companies and individuals going above and beyond to deliver for Defence.”

Sentinel Boats took out the award for Prime Contractor of the Year, which recognised the outstanding performance of the three highly specialised Sentinel LMCs custom built for the Royal New Zealand Navy.

“We are absolutely thrilled that our vessels have been so readily accepted and loved by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), which has furthered our strong partnership,” posted the company on LinkedIn.

Donna Tilley of Nova Systems NZ Ltd received an individual award in the Kotahitanga/Unity category in recognition of her contribution to Defence in her role as Project Manager for the Land Engineering Optimisation project.

“The event was a great success for our team, with three nominations and one additional finalist being announced,” stated Donna. “It was indeed a night of achievement and celebration for all members of the Nova Systems NZ team, a team I am grateful to be part of.”

Every year nominations for a range of awards are sought from NZDF staff and personnel, staff of the Ministry of Defence, and from Defence industry. This year’s winners and finalists are: 

Prime Contractor of the Year: Sentinel Boats. Image: Ministry of Defence.

2023 Category Winners

Prime Contractor of the Year : Sentinel Boats

Defence bought three littoral manoeuvre crafts (LMC) for expeditionary reconnaissance and mine counter measure diving teams operating from HMNZS Manawanui. Tasmania-based Sentinel were selected because of their experience in High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) boats for the Australian Police and Search and Rescue. They partnered with Defence to meet New Zealand’s unique military requirements.

Sub-Contractor or SME of the Year for Product: McMillan & Lockwood Central Limited

The Defence Consolidated Logistics Programme engaged Macmillan Lockwood for the construction of the Linton Maintenance Support building.  The project involved over 60 staff and 120 subcontractors, the majority of which were from the Manawatū-Whanganui region.

Sub-contractor/SME of the Year Service: Tree Trim and Earthworks Limited

Tree Trim and Earthworks, a civil works contractor, helped Defence design, build and run an onsite treatment facility for contaminated soils.

Along with delivering treatment to levels deemed compliant by the local authority, it allowed for the impact of large weather events, weight of vehicles onsite, earthquake loadings, and space and site management for both contaminated and uncontaminated soils.

The 2023 Special Award Winners

Tū Kaha/Courage:  Natalie Doherty (Systematic)

As part of the Network Enabled Army programme, Ms Doherty supported the mobile tactical communication system with technical engineering advice. Ms Doherty’s depth of knowledge enabled defence helped to ensure a complete and comprehensive solution was provided.

Sub-Contractor or SME of the Year for Product: McMillan & Lockwood Central Limited. Image: Ministry of Defence.

Tū Tika/Commitment

This year there were two winners in this category:

David Rangi (Mobile Communication Services)

Mobile Communication Services managed the replacement of Very High frequency non-tactical radios and associated systems. The company streamlined network designs for more efficient servicing and support and their strong messages around flexibility and ‘can do’ approach came through consistently.

Tū Tika/Commitment category winner: David Rangi. Image: Ministry of Defence.

Jack Adlam (Maynard Marks)

Asbestos management is a specialist area, and defence estate and Infrastructure draws heavily on Mr Adlam’s services. This includes training, advice, and the development of the Defence asbestos management plan.

Tū Tira/Comradeship: Karl Potter (South Auckland Marine)

South Auckland Marine was engaged to support a mid-life refresh of Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS) that have been in place since 2016. South Auckland Marine have investigated and identified solutions to technical issues and as a result slight changes in practice, such as fuel type used, have reduced operating and maintenance costs.

Tū Māia/Integrity: Charles Brown (Building Intelligence Group)

Mr Brown was appointed as Engineer to support the contract for the infrastructure components for the Air Surveillance Maritime Patrol (P-8A Poseidon) and Future Air Mobility Capability (C-130J Hercules) projects. Mr Brown has brought a high level of respect and professionalism to the role, and executed it impartially and transparently.  

Kotahitanga/Unity: Donna Tilley (Nova Systems NZ Ltd)

People, systems, and professional development are needed to ensure engineering trade skills are being developed within Defence to support current and future capabilities, and the Land Engineering Optimisation project is seeking re-establish these skills.

Ms Tilly was engaged through Nova Systems NZ and showed her adept skills at operating in a highly ambiguous environment, bringing clarity to a consolidated plan. 

Kotahitanga/Unity category winner Donna Tilley (Nova Systems NZ Ltd). Image: LinkedIn.

Award Finalists

In addition to the winners, the finalists in the 2023 Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry were:

Contractor of the Year: Hirtenberger Defence Technologies Limited

Specialising in major military combat systems, the company provided the artillery fire control system for the 81mm medium mortars upgrade. This is replacing an ageing 30 year old system.

The work included supply of hardware and software, live fire testing, training, and support for integration of the new mortar solution. Their specialist expertise enabled aspects of interoperability with other programmes to be tested, such as the European NATO system, which New Zealand would not have otherwise been able to access.

Sub-Contractor or SME of the Year for Product

GTA Containers

GTA Containers provided the replacement of the Forward Aviation Refuelling System. This enables transportation of fuel cells and can refuel up to two helicopters simultaneously. Their containerised solution delivered beyond Defence’s expectations.

Deployable by truck, sea, or air, the system’s multiple bladders can be configured in varying ways, and when empty can be deployed with a four-person lift. The training package ensured alignment of practice between users. GTA Containers understood Defence’s needs, and supported the modernisation of this area.

Defence Minister Judith Collins addressing the awards function audience. Image: Ministry of Defence.

Kernow Construction

Kernow Construction built a standalone Military Working Dog facility, a first of its kind as part of the Ohakea Infrastructure Programme. The construction incorporated bespoke requirements, including a hydrotherapy pool for the dogs.

Coupled with Defence’s specific health and safety requirements, this project required high levels of flexibility and value engineering while delivering the best outcome within budget. They used local subcontractors and suppliers with high levels of craftsmanship and quality and invested their own funds to test and build some elements. 

With 18 full time staff, over 200 subcontractors, Kernow brought over $6M into the local economy.

Leonardo S.p.A

The A109 Light Utility Helicopter simulator was acquired from Leonardo in 2008, with Beca providing through life support. With an upgrade needed for the simulator to meet new civil and military aviation standards, Beca subcontracted Leonardo to provide these services.

Beca has nominated Leonardo for these awards recognising that the company delivered the upgrade, and additional enhancements without an increase in cost. These included the newer flight model, data, a prioritised parts and spares package, and a newer camera-based alignment. Leonardo demonstrated flexibility, openness, and engagement. 

Sub-Contractor or SME of the Year for Services

Dive Centre Auckland

Following Dive Centre Auckland becoming the main provider servicing the NZDF’s dive equipment, trust was built rapidly, and best practice became a foundational tenet. Throughout COVID-19 lockdowns equipment was kept at full availability for missions, such as bomb disposal, expeditionary reconnaissance, and body recovery.

Nova Systems

Engaged to support the design of the test and evaluation plan for the Air Surveillance Maritime Patrol (P-8A Poseidon) project, Nova recognised the challenges and constraints Defence had for resourcing this area.

The high calibre of skill and technical knowledge brought by Nova Systems enabled the project to efficiently and effectively pass through the new air worthiness requirements rapidly ensuring this critical capability was introduce into service without a capability gap.

Sub-Contractor or SME of the Year for Services Finalist: Nova Systems. Image: Ministry of Defence.

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