Yesterday I awarded State Services Commissioner’s Commendations to Paul Hondelink and Nick Wallis for Frontline Excellence. It was with great sadness that I awarded these Commendations posthumously.
On 18 October 2018, Paul and Nick tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Wanaka. They died in the line of duty, alongside DOC Biodiversity Ranger Scott Theobald, who was awarded a posthumous Commendation last year.
Nick and Paul’s Commendations were accepted by their families at a special memorial service at the Department of Conservation (DOC) in Wellington.
Commendations are awarded to individuals who demonstrate exceptional care and commitment to New Zealanders, generate pride in the Public Service, and exemplify the spirit of service. Paul, Nick, and Scott are all thoroughly deserving of this honour.
Paul, known as Hondy, was a senior ranger and had served with DOC since its inception in 1987. Nick was a pilot with Alpine Helicopters. Although not a public servant, Nick was a long-time contractor to DOC and had a strong track record of providing frontline service for New Zealand.
Paul, Nick, and Scott will all be remembered for their commitment to the conservation of New Zealand’s environment. Yesterday was another reminder that many people put their lives on the line to serve their communities and their countries.
I was humbled to attend the memorial service and to reflect on Paul, Nick, and Scott’s many achievements. We owe them so much.