Women in Security Awards Aotearoa

Aotearoa New Zealand’s very own Women in Security Awards have returned in 2023 for a fourth year, retaining its fierce independence and introducing ground breaking new award categories reflecting the threats New Zealanders currently face.


Defsec New Zealand, Women in Security & Resilience Alliance (WISECRA), and the New Zealand Security Sector Network (NZSSN) are pleased to announce that nominations for the 2023 Women in Security Awards Aotearoa are now being accepted.

The Women in Security Awards Aotearoa (WiSAA) initiative was established in 2020 to promote the role of women in sectors where they are still significantly under-represented, and to recognise women who are advancing Aotearoa New Zealand’s security, risk and resilience sectors.

Heather Jones

Heather Jones, Director, Aegis Private Security, a 2021 WiSAA awardee.

“What makes WiSAA uniquely special is the fact that it cuts across security domain boundaries and across the public, private, and community sectors in a way that no other awards programme in our sector does,” said NZSM and Line of Defence Magazine chief editor Nicholas Dynon. “The awards are also famously independent. They’re not resourced by sponsorships or event tickets, just the efforts of volunteers.”

“This year we’re retiring our old cohort of award categories in favour of what we believe to be a revolutionary new approach in which our nine categories correspond to the protection of New Zealanders from particular threats,” said Nicholas.

“Identifying the right categories was by no means an exact science, but the process did take into account the results of the 2023 National Security Public Survey Report, the 2023 National Security Intelligence Priorities, and the weight of recent public discourse.”

And the categories are:

  1. Preventing retail and violent crime
  2. Securing organisations and infrastructure
  3. Disrupting information and cyber threats
  4. Countering incivility and violent extremism
  5. Confronting bullying and online harm
  6. Combatting fraud and misrepresentation
  7. Protecting borders, trade, and biosecurity
  8. Responding to natural disaster events
  9. Building resilient communities

Nominees must be women, or identify as women, with more than three years of experience in any occupation within either the physical security, personnel security, information security, cybersecurity, investigations, intelligence, risk management, emergency management or resilience domains, and be actively practising in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Nominations are encouraged from across the private, public (including government, education, military, and law enforcement) and community sectors. It is important to note that these awards are open to the broader security sector, not just ‘industry’. Self-nominations are welcomed.

Andrew Thorburn

Andrew Thorburn, WiSAA co-founder.

“In our third year [2022] it was extremely encouraging to see continued recognition of inspirational professionals from across the broader security and resilience sector,” said WiSAA co-founder Andrew Thorburn. “It is becoming more evident that as the sector matures it is characterised by increasing levels of inclusiveness and diversity.”

Nominations will be assessed on the extent to which the nominee’s efforts over the past 18 months reflect the values articulated in the category descriptions.

The deadline for nominations is 4:00pm, Friday 24 November 2023 (note that this is a two-week extension from the original deadline date), and nominations of no more than 1,000 words (including supporting material) are to be emailed to editor@defsec.net.nz

A judging panel of eminent sector professionals is set to be announced in mid-October, and winners will be announced via the Defsec New Zealand website on 01 December. “The awards have been anchored by some inspiring judges over the years, including the likes of Dr Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor, Ngaire Kelaher CPP PSP, Dr Carrine Teoh Chooi Shi CISSP CBCP, Jennie Vickers, and Bonnie Butlin, and this year will be no different,” said Andrew.

WiSAA2023 Category Winners and Highly Commended nominees receive a certificate in recognition of their achievement and are entitled to use the coveted Category Winner or Highly Commended badge. Individuals or organisations submitting an accepted nomination are entitled to use the Supporter badge to promote their support of Women in Security.

New Zealand Security Sector Network