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Queen’s Birthday Honours Recipients Recognised

Fire and Emergency personnel from Cromwell, Kaikoura, Ranfurly, Blackball and Taneatua are recipients of Royal Honours for their services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and their communities.

The five recipients, Des Minehan, Ian Walker, Ewan Mason, Allan Cox and Diane Yalden, were presented with their honours by Governor-General Patsy Reddy at Government House today.

"The Royal Honours are a well-deserved recognition for the significant contribution they have made to their communities and to Fire and Emergency New Zealand in a variety of roles," says Fire and Emergency New Zealand Board Chair Paul Swain.

"We are very grateful they have given their time, skills and passion so generously to serve their communities - not just with their local fire brigade but also their local sports clubs, events and schools."

"The awarding of these honours carries special significance and reflects the immense amount of work they have done over many years to help make their communities stronger, safer and more resilient."

"My sincere thanks and congratulations to them all for this well-deserved recognition - and to their families for their support. Without their support, they couldn’t do what they do."

Background on the recipients:

Des Minehan (Cromwell) - Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Des Minehan has made significant contributions to the improvement of fire and emergency management and governance in the Southland region. His leadership in both areas has significantly contributed to building community resilience across the Southland region.

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He was instrumental in leading discussions and driving initiatives in Southland in 1996 to amalgamate the rural fire responsibilities of the major forestry companies to form the Southern Plantations Rural Fire Authority (SPRFA). Mr Mineham chaired the SPRFA Board from 2000 to 2003.

In 2003, he led discussions with the Department of Conservation and local government in Otago and Southland, which resulted in the formation of the Southern Rural Fire Authority (SRFA). He chaired the SRFA Board from 2009 to 2016, ahead of the formation of Fire and Emergency New Zealand. He has also chaired the Enlarged Rural Fire Authorities Chairpersons Forum since 2006.

Within the wider community, Mr Minehan is a past Chairperson of the Cromwell Golf Club, a Life Member of the Mataura Rugby Club, past President of Otago/Southland Axeman’s Association, and was a Board member of Rugby Southland for two years.

Ian Walker (Kaikoura) - Queen’s Service medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Ian Walker joined the Kaikoura Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1979 and has been Chief Fire Officer since 1985. He was made a Life Member in 2002.

Mr Walker played a key role in responding to the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. Despite his own home and business being severely damaged, he took a lead role in the earthquake response until more assistance arrived. In the days following the earthquake he liaised between the community and Urban Search and Rescue, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the New Zealand Defence Force and other stakeholders. He provided vehicles from his own business to assist with the earthquake response.

Mr Walker held a position on the Kaikoura District Council from 1986 to 1992 and has been a Trustee Member of the Community Vehicle Trust Board since 2011.

Ewan Mason (Ranfurly) - Queen’s Service medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Ewan Mason has been a member of the Ranfurly Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1973, including 10 years as Chief Fire Officer and a total of 25 years as an Officer.

Mr Mason established and developed the Maniototo Community Speaker System, of which he is custodian and operating engineer on a voluntary basis. Through this community asset, he has provided sound and lighting systems for local events and attractions in and around Maniototo for the past 47 years. He has supported the Maniototo Primary Schools Athletic Sports event for 36 years and has provided sound and lighting for the Ranfurly Musical and Dramatic Society’s productions for more than 40 years.

He established, and has since provided technical support for the ‘Burn 729’ local community radio station for 37 years. He has represented New Zealand internationally as a bagpiper, playing in Tattoos and festivals internationally, notably the Royal Tattoo at Windsor Castle in 2010 and two seasons at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Alan Cox (Blackball, West Coast) - Queen’s Service medal for services to the community

Mr Allan Cox has given more than 40 years of service to the Blackball community through several organisations, including as a volunteer with the Blackball Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1974 to 2015, where he rose to the rank of Station Officer and was made a Life Member.

Mr Cox is a current member of the Blackball Swimming Club, having volunteered for the club since 1980. He has helped fundraise and implement three separate pool upgrades and committed many weeks of service each season to have the pool ready for use. He was a member of the West Coast Kennel Association from 1982 to 2015, including serving as President for 22 years and as a delegate to the national annual conference for six years. He is a Life Member of both organisations.

He was Chairman of the Blackball School Committee from 1984, during which time he helped lift the school out of financial difficulty and oversaw the construction of a new Blackball School in 1986. He has been a key contributor to a number of general community projects in Blackball, including the construction of 22 picnic tables and the fencing of the Blackball cemetery. Mr Cox was also a volunteer for the Order of St John from 1990 to 2015.

Diane Yalden (Taneatua, Bay of Plenty) - Queen’s Service medal for services to the community

Mrs Diane Yalden has volunteered in the Taneatua community for more than 25 years, including as a Support Officer for the Taneatua Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1996. She was made a Life Member in 2018 in recognition of her fundraising and commitment to the Brigade.

Mrs Yalden has volunteered for the Taneatua Community Board for 25 years, including time as Deputy Chairperson from 2007 and Chairperson from 2013. She has been caterer for the Taneatua Lions for 25 years, running a fundraiser with all proceeds going towards the Taneatua Volunteer Fire Brigade. She has been a member of the Eastern Bay of Plenty Justices of the Peace Association since 1994, has been a Council member since 2002 and Registrar since 2004. She was a volunteer librarian for Taneatua School from 1981 to 1984 and Treasurer for the Taneatua Squash Club from 1994 to 2000. Mrs Yalden also volunteered with the Taneatua Athletic and Tennis Clubs until they were incorporated into larger clubs in Whakatane in 2001.

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