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Queen’s Birthday Honours Recipients Recognised

Press Release – Fire and Emergency NZ

Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel from Matamata, Dannevirke, Kaiapoi, Rotorua and New Plymouth were presented with their Queen’s Birthday Honours by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro at Government House in Wellington today.

Fire and Emergency Board Chair Rebecca Keoghan says, “These five worthy recipients have provided years of contribution to help their communities become stronger, safer and more resilient both through their efforts for Fire and Emergency, and through all their other community contributions. It is a pleasure to see their efforts recognised.”

“On behalf of Fire and Emergency and the people of New Zealand, thank you for your outstanding service – your communities are richer for your work.”

Background on recipients:

Mr Kevin Graham CURTIS (Matamata) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for service to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Mr Kevin Curtis has been a member of the Matamata Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1975, having begun his involvement unofficially as a runner at age 16 in 1973. Mr Curtis was deputy chief fire officer from 1995 to 2012, before taking up his current role of chief fire officer. He has been a member of the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigade Association (APFBA) since 2013, serving on the leadership committee for four years and as president in 2016/2017.

He has supported a range of Matamata Lions Club projects such as the annual fertiliser drive fundraiser, Christmas float, IHC golf competition and various working bees. He has also supported Rotary Club projects and the Matamata Art Society participating in working bees and running exhibitions.

As a member of the Matamata Gun Club for 40 years, Mr Curtis has held a variety of roles including coach, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. He also worked with the Te Aroha Gun Club to support the safe running of secondary school shoots at the club.

Mr Neville Henry JACOBSEN (Dannevirke) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for service to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Mr Neville Jacobsen has been a member of the Dannevirke Fire Brigade for 57 years, maintaining a more than 90 percent attendance rate for callouts and supporting his fellow volunteers to keep their training up to date. Mr Jacobsen project-managed building a new shed for the fire tanker in 2015/2016 and he remains involved as curator of the Dannevirke Fire Service Museum and as a brigade support member.

As a Dannevirke Salvation Army volunteer for 47 years, Mr Jacobsen has helped with Christmas events, staffed the Dannevirke Family Store, and used his skills as a builder to replace the floor of the High Street citadel.

He volunteered with St John from 1978 to 1990, was a scout leader for five years, and was a member of search and rescue and civil defence teams from 1980 to 2006. He has raised funds to purchase defibrillators, trained people in their use, and installed them in businesses around the community. Mr Jacobsen was a member of the Tararua Aquatic Community Trust in the 1990s, helping raise $1.2 million to build a heated community pool, regularly contributing to working bees, and continuing to volunteer at the pool for many years after it opened.

Mr Gary Irving LANG (Kaiapoi) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Special Olympics and the Community

Mr Gary Lang was a founding member and treasurer of Southland Special Olympics in 1985, transferring to Eastern Southland Special Olympics as regional coordinator in 1990, then to North Canterbury Special Olympics Committee from 2000 to 2004.

Mr Lang has held roles including regional coordinator, treasurer, committee member, and coach for athletics, bocce and indoor bowls. He travelled to the United States as Assistant Team Manager at the 1995 World Summer Games Special Olympics in Connecticut and as Team Manager for the 1999 World Summer Games Special Olympics In North Carolina. He is a Life Member of Eastern Southland Special Olympics.

Mr Lang has also served 37 years as a volunteer firefighter initially in Gore, and since 1999, in Kaiapoi. He contributes to the brigade’s community safety initiatives, providing home fire safety checks and smoke alarm installations to people in need around the community. In March 2020 the Kaiapoi brigade celebrated its 150th anniversary and Gary was instrumental in the organising and delivery of this week-long event.

Mr John Robert SANDISON, JP (Rotorua) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for service to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Mr John Sandison was a career firefighter with Fire and Emergency New Zealand in the Kawerau district from 1974 until retiring in 2018, while simultaneously volunteering with the Rotoma Volunteer Fire Brigade for 45 years. Mr Sandison was officer in charge of Rotoma Volunteer Fire Brigade for several years. He contributed significantly to volunteer training, retention and succession planning for the brigade, which operates in a community where there is a frequent turn-over of residents.

He was the Kawerau Fire Brigade delegate to the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) for several years and was made an honorary life member of the union in 2018. Mr Sandison has been a justice of the peace for the Rotorua district and Rotoma community since 1992.

Mr Sandison was a member and chair of the board of trustees of Lake Rotoma Primary School between 1991 and 2000 and undertook school ground caretaker roles. He helped build an obstacle course used by the Rotorua East Lakes school cluster, has coordinated fire safety programmes for schoolchildren, and provided transport for academic and sporting events.

Mrs Rachael Anne UTUMAPU (New Plymouth) – Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for service to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and people with cancer

Mrs Rachael Utumapu became the first female career firefighter in New Plymouth in 2003. Mrs Utumapu has been a senior trainer, coordinator and member of the national management team for the Fire Awareness Intervention Programme (FAIP) since 2006. She has written and designed FAIP programme and resource materials and managed a nationwide team to deliver more than 5,500 interventions with at risk youth. She has twice won the New Zealand Fire Service firefighter scholarship to undertake research in the United States on FAIP and diversity and inclusion.

Mrs Utumapu was a founding member of the Women in Fire and Emergency New Zealand (WFENZ) National Women’s Advisory Committee and is a former chair and current member of the Te Ūpoko Region Women’s Advisory Network (RWAN). She has been manager of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Women’s Development Team since 2019.

Mrs Utumapu has been facilitator for Look Good Feel Better ‘Facing Cancer with Confidence’ in Taranaki since 2009, helping raise funds and develop and deliver a nationwide men’s programme. She co-established the New Hair Project in New Plymouth in 2017, providing wigs for people with hair loss from cancer treatment and other medical causes. Mrs Utumapu has been a volunteer speaker in the community on fire safety and supporting those affected by cancer.

Murray Binning (Kumeu) received a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and will be invested at a later date.

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