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Fire and Emergency honours recipients congratulated

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Board Chair Rebecca Keoghan has congratulated five firefighters and support personnel from Southbridge, Waitati, Tolaga Bay, Ngātīmoti, and Runanga who have been recognised with Queen’s Service Medals in the 2024 New Year 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:

– Neville Carter (Southbridge) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and rugby.

– Paul Clements ( Waitati) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community.

– Eruera (Eru) Kaiwai (Tolaga Bay) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to the community.

– Gavin O’Donnell ( Ngātīmoti) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to the rural community and conservation.

– James (Harry) Piner ( Runanga) – 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 (work) these five personnel have undertaken to serve their communities.

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

Additional information:

Mr Neville Albert CARTER

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

Mr Neville Carter has given more than 50 years’ service to the Southbridge Volunteer Fire Brigade and other community groups in east Canterbury.

Since joining the Brigade in 1973, Mr Carter has held a variety of leadership roles and supported its rural firefighting skills development. In 2009 he was promoted to Station Officer, a role he still holds today. He was instrumental in the planning, fundraising and building stages of a new Southbridge Fire Station in 2013/2014, for which the Brigade raised more than $200,000. Since 1973 he has attended 78 percent of the Brigade’s calls and 87 percent of weekly trainings. He has been a member of the Southbridge Rugby Football Club committee since 1976, volunteering his time to undertake coaching, refereeing, managing the bar and organising events. He helped establish the club’s Golden Oldie and women’s rugby teams, and donated items to be auctioned for its annual fundraising events. He was made a Life Member of Southbridge Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Rugby Football Club in 2001. Mr Carter volunteers his time and resources to support the Southbridge School through groundskeeping and maintenance and has been a committee member of the Southbridge Reserves Board since 1976.


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

Mr Paul Clements worked as a career firefighter from 1967 until 2012 and from 1978 was simultaneously a member of the Waitati Volunteer Fire Brigade, where he remains a volunteer.

Mr Clements helped establish one of New Zealand’s first peer-support programmes to assist firefighters following traumatic events in their professional and personal lives. This programme is now considered the cornerstone of support mechanisms available to serving firefighters and has since been rolled out nationwide. He was deployed to Christchurch following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes to provide peer support to emergency responders supporting the city’s recovery efforts. For more than 30 years he has been involved in community initiatives in the coastal Otago and Southland regions, including historical conservation work at Port Craig and leading heritage restoration work on Quarantine Island / Kamau Taurua. He is a lead member of the Blueskin Youth and Amenities group, helping to create a new walking track near Orokonui. Mr Clements has volunteered with several other community organisations including Victim Support, Habitat for Humanity and Special Rigs for Special Kids.

Mr Eruera Taihaere (Eru) KAIWAI

Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to the community.

Mr Eru Kaiwai (Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti) has been contributing to the Tolaga Bay community since the 1950s.

Mr Kaiwai has been a volunteer with the Tolaga Bay Fire Brigade since 1957 and is currently the oldest living member. He was a member of the Tolaga Bay Civil Defence between 1985 and 1990 during Cyclone Bola. He is Kaumatua of Puketawai Marae and served as Treasurer between 1959 and 1965, has been a member of the Korowai Aroha Committee since 1992 and has been a Minister for tangihanga, weddings and hui since 2005. He helped establish Radio Ngāti Porou, serving as the first live broadcaster and sports reporter and was a radio operator of Tolaga Bay Search and Rescue between 1985 and 2010. He was a trustee of the Tolaga Bay Area School between 1997 and 2013 and serves as the current Chair of the Tolaga Bay Golden Oldies. He has been a Chair of the 28th Māori Battalion of the Tolaga Bay Branch, Chair of the O Kuri Marae and of the Harata Kirimana Land Trust. Mr Kaiwai was receipient of the Gisborne District Council’s Civic Award in 2000.

Mr Gavin John O’DONNELL

Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to t he rural community and conservation.

Mr Gavin O’Donnell is a member of a range of environmental groups in the Nelson/Tasman area, including the Tasman Environmental Trust, Waimea Fresh Water and Land Advisory Group, biodiversity fora, regional pest management, and Tasman Bay Guardians.

Mr O’Donnell played a key role in setting up the Ministry for Primary Industries Rural Advisory Group and has been on the committee since 2018. He has held various roles with Federated Farmers, including as Chairman from 2011 to 2014, treasurer from 2014 to 2022, and was previously the Meat and Wool representative from 1996 to 2000. He is a member of the Nelson Tasman Primary Cluster Adverse Events Network representing Fire and Emergency New Zealand and Federated Farmers. He provided assistance following 2017 Cyclone Gita, contacting people affected by slips and flooding in the area, and during the Pigeon Valley fires where he provided on-the-ground information to the network during the event. In 2011 he organised teams to repair fences following an adverse weather event hitting coastal Nelson. He has been a volunteer firefighter since 2006, a member of the Waimea Rural Fire Emergency Management Team and a committee member of Ngātīmoti Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade. Mr O’Donnell was involved with the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association’s planning and development of the new Canterbury A&P showgrounds from 1992 to 2000.


Federated Farmers Outstanding Advocacy Award, 2018

Mr James Harry (Harry) PINER

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

Mr Harry Piner was a member of the Runanga Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1968 until retiring from his role as Station Officer in 2023.

Mr Piner was a long serving volunteer St John Ambulance Officer from 1980 to 2011 and utilised his medical expertise when responding to medical assistance callouts with the Fire Brigade, also passing on his knowledge to mentor other brigade members in dealing with trauma. He has been instrumental in providing fire safety advice and support to the Runanga, Coast Road, Rapahoe and Barrytown communities through open days, A&P shows and other events. He has supported the waterway competition teams and assisted when Runanga hosted these competitions. He has supported the Brigade’s local Cadets programme. He houses and has helped restore and maintain the vintage 1927 Dennis Fire Appliance owned by the Brigade. He was appointed Divisional Manager in Runanga from 2001 to 2004. Within the wider community Mr Piner was a Youth Club Leader at Runanga Hall for 10 years and was a member of the Runanga Miners Hall Committee and the Runanga Ratepayers Association.


Greymouth District Council Civic Award

Member of the Order of St John, 2011


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