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Fire And Emergency Honours Recipients Congratulated

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Board Chair Rebecca Keoghan has congratulated six firefighters and support personnel from Blenheim, Porirua, Waipawa, Ngaruawahia, Mapua and Omarama who have been recognised in the 2022 New Year’s Honours list released today.

"It is a privilege to have such public-spirited and dedicated New Zealanders offer their time and skills to serve their communities and Fire and Emergency New Zealand," says Rebecca Keoghan.

The recipients are:

- Richard (Mac) McNamara ( Blenheim) - Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and emergency management

- Russell Postlewaight (Porirua) - Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

- Brendan Butler (Waipawa) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

- Maurice James Cowie (Omarama) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Search and Rescue

- Trevor (Mike) Crosbie (Ngaruawahia) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

- Eileen Harvey-Thawley (Mapua) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

"This is a well-deserved recognition that reflects the years of hard mahi these people have undertaken to provide for Fire and Emergency and their communities."

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"On behalf of everyone in Aotearoa, I would like to congratulate them on receiving this very special honour," says Rebecca Keoghan.

Additional information about each recipient:

Mr Richard Mark (Mac) MCNAMARA

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and emergency management

Mr Mac McNamara has recently retired after many years in wildfire emergency response, as an incident controller and leader in the firefighting aviation industry.

Mr McNamara is internationally respected as a Fire Manager in the aviation sector, responding to significant international wildfire events in Canada, the United States and Australia on New Zealand’s behalf. He developed an operating standard for Aviation Fire Fighting and Emergency Response, which has been adopted by other government departments including the Department of Conservation. He set up the Fire and Emergency Airdesk, which oversees the dispatch of aircraft throughout New Zealand for aerial firefighting operations. He was Aircraft Manager during the 2010 Christchurch earthquakes, involving coordinating air support for rescue efforts in the city. As Principal Rural Fire Officer, he helped establish the Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority in 2012, regarded as a leading example of an enlarged Rural Fire Authority. He led responses to significant wildfire events such as the Onamaluta Fire, Parsons Road Fire and the Port Hills Fire. He has been a voluntary Civil Defence Controller in Marlborough since 2013, leading the local response to the 2013 Seddon Earthquakes, the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquakes and the 2021 flood events in Marlborough. Mr McNamara was a specialist advisor in establishing the newly structured Fire and Emergency New Zealand organisation in 2017.

Mr Russell John POSTLEWAIGHT

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Mr Russell Postlewaight has spent 51 years as a career firefighter and fire investigator in New Zealand.

Mr Postlewaight has been an effective community communicator for Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), delivering fire safety messaging in lower socio-economic areas. He was Chief of the United Nations Fire Unit from 1993 to 1995 during the Balkan conflict and spent a year with New York City’s Rescue services. He spent 25 years as an advisor on the UN’s fire equipment procurement committee, helping establish or develop fire brigades in under-developed parts of the world. He has been a Senior Executive and past President of the Fire Brigades Institute, which provides technical training and examinations for firefighters, and served on the Exam Panel for 12 years. He has held other voluntary positions with the United Fire Brigades Association. He was a volunteer firefighter and Chief Fire Officer at Plimmerton Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1996 to 2009, using his professional experience to raise the standard of volunteers. He has been co-editor of the New Zealand firefighter online magazine K1 since 2008 on a voluntary basis, which has a readership of around 25,000 nationally and internationally and is distributed bi-monthly. Mr Postlewaight has experienced a series of career-related cancers and has been a mentor assisting other firefighters in similar situations.

Mr Brendan Sean BUTLER

Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Mr Brendan Butler has volunteered with the Tikokino Fire Brigade since 1972, holding every role from recruit to Station Chief.

Mr Butler was Chief Fire Officer from 1998 to 2001 and has been Senior Station Officer from 2001 until the present. He has attended more than 2,000 emergency callouts to date and is recognised within the Brigade for being regularly "first in and last out". He lives a long way from the station and therefore misses the departure of the fire appliance when called out, making his own way in his personal vehicle to support the Brigade, travelling thousands of kilometres at his own cost. He has spent many hours fixing and maintaining equipment and looking after the station facilities and grounds. He has fundraised for the Brigade, notably for the purchase of a new tanker vital to fire control, especially during dry Central Hawke’s Bay summers. He has remained committed to training and upskilling in firefighting techniques and knowledge and has upskilled to a Fire and Emergency medical First Responder. He has attended weekly training for more than 50 years. Mr Butler was made an Honorary Life Member of the Brigade in 1997.

Mr Maurice James COWIE

Queen’s Service Medal - For services to Search and Rescue

Mr Maurice Cowie has been a member of Omarama Search and Rescue (SAR) since 1998 and played a key role in revitalising the organisation from a membership of two, recruiting new members, organising sponsorship and regular training.

Mr Cowie has held roles including field member, team leader and incident management team member. Due to his knowledge, he is the first point of contact for Police in the event of a Search and Rescue operation. He was recognised as part of the Omarama SAR group that received the LandSAR Supreme Award in 2012 for a significant operation in Ahuriri Valley that located a missing tramper after 14 days. He has volunteered to assist in searches in other regions including Owaka, Lawrence and Dunedin. He contributed his time and donated materials to the renovation of the Omarama SAR base. He constructed a stretcher trailer for towing behind an ATV to allow for rescue of injured persons from the Alps to Ocean cycle trail, given the difficulties in effecting rescues due to the length of the trail. He is a member of the local work group that stands in for a Civil Defence group for Omarama in the case of a natural disaster. Mr Cowie has also been involved with rural and urban fire brigades for 50 years.

Mr Trevor Michael (Mike) CROSBIE, JP

Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Mr Mike Crosbie was appointed Chief Fire Officer of the Te Akau Voluntary Rural Fire Force soon after its establishment in 1997 and has led the Fire Force until the present.

Mr Crosbie played a key role in instigating the Te Akau Voluntary Rural Fire Force in 1996, noting the fire risk in the area with the nearest firefighting assistance more than 60 kilometres away. He was instrumental in the acquisition and ongoing maintenance of the Fire Force’s two buildings and three vehicles. As owner of Te Akau Garage, he has maintained the vehicles free of charge for 25 years. He has led his team of volunteer firefighters away to courses to improve their skills. The Te Akau Rural Fire Force is frequently called out to assist fire services from Raglan, Huntly and Ngaruawahia to fight scrub or similar fires, assist with rescue helicopter landings or vehicle accidents. He is a Life Member of Te Akau Waingaro Community Complex for his services to the community. Mr Crosbie has been a Justice of the Peace since 2004.

Mrs Eileen Margaret Jean HARVEY-THAWLEY

Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) For services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Mrs Eileen Harvey-Thawley has volunteered with the Mapua Volunteer Fire Brigade since the mid-1990s, including as Operational Support Officer since 2004 and Treasurer since 2006.

Mrs Harvey-Thawley continues to respond to emergency callouts at age 83, providing operational support at the station and waiting until crews return. She helps with Mapua Brigade’s risk reduction activities and has led efforts for the preservation and housing of a 1948 heritage fire appliance, which was Mapua’s first fire truck and is used by the brigade at community events. She has received two Tasman District Council civic awards, most recently in 2021, recognising her community contributions in the region over 30 years. This has included the obtaining and restoration of a settler’s cob house and its ongoing preservation and collating the enlistments for World War One in Nelson province. She has been a Board member of Moutere Hills Cemetery since 1990, helping with the recognition of sites of historical significance in Mapua and Moutere.

She and her husband donated a significant parcel of land at the entrance to Mapua to the QEII Trust for local ecological preservation. Mrs Harvey-Thawley has helped organise historical displays at Mapua Wharf and in Upper Moutere.

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