Last year’s winners of the IMRF’s People’s Choice Award have been given a further commendation recognising the exceptional skills and actions involved in the multiagency rescue they were nominated for.

The Kariaotahi Surf Life Saving Club, Coastguard Waiuku, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, NZ Police Air Support Unit, Coastguard Papakura and Coastguard Northern Communications have all been presented with a New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) Gold Award in Operational Activity.

The Award was announced at the NZSAR Awards held on 15 July in Auckland.

The rescue took place in May 2019 and was a large, complex multi-agency search and rescue operation to save a man, woman and a child thrown into freezing water when their small boat flipped over. 

The different agencies were shortlisted finalists in the IMRF Awards Outstanding Team Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations category, and then won the People’s Choice Awards.

A second NZSAR Award was presented to the Maritime Operations Centre, Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, 5 Squadron - Royal New Zealand Air Force, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and Coastguard Bay of Islands were all awarded with a NZSAR Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity, for their role in the rescue of four people from a sinking vessel 37km off the coast of Cape Brett in October last year.

NZSAR Secretariat Manager Duncan Ferner described both rescues as time-sensitive operations that challenged the search and rescue teams to think outside the box:


The extraordinary teamwork, communication, careful planning and strategic action shown by all groups involved was crucial to each successful outcome."


These rescues are both fantastic examples of multiple organisations working effectively together in challenging conditions – and the awards recognise the merits of that collaboration. The vital work carried out by these agencies is the product of hours of training – and the support of the people in their clubs, units, groups and their family and supporters.


There are five categories in the IMRF Awards (for team, individual, lifetime achievement, technology and innovation, and for the first time in 2019 – #WomenInSAR) the public is then invited to vote for the most deserving finalist, and the nomination, which secures the most votes on Facebook and Sina Weibo votes wins the IMRF People’s Choice Award.

The IMRF Trustees have decided to combine the 2020 and 2021 IMRF Award nominations and to hold an Awards event next year, as a result of the difficulties faced globally due to the coronavirus.   

To submit a nomination for the next IMRF Awards, just click here.

The next IMRF Awards Lunch will be held on HQS Wellington in London on Tuesday, 7 September 2021.