2020 Awards of Excellence to Industry

The 2020 Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry acknowledge the businesses that have gone above and beyond to support Defence during the Covid-19 response.

About the Awards of Excellence

Eight businesses have won an award for their work, which has been invaluable to the work of Defence during an unprecedented and challenging time.

The complete list of winners and finalists can be found here.

The 2020 Category Winners

Innovation Award Winner: Staples VR

Staples VR is a New Zealand creative technology company based in Auckland. The company contracted by the Royal New Zealand Navy developed a virtual reality that trains ships' crew in the launch of floating decoys used to counter missile threats. The Staples solution has delivered a simulator that means Navy can train without having to launch a decoy; saving time and money, and moving to an "anytime, anywhere" learning environment.

Provision of Product or Service Award Winner: CAE New Zealand

CAE New Zealand installed a state-of-the-art NH90 helicopter simulator at RNZAF Base Ōhakea despite international travel restrictions preventing specialists coming out from canada. Their work with local companies and RNZAF personnel was innovative and ensured critical pilot training could be carried out.

Strategic Partnership Award Winner: Babcock NZ

During the nationwide COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, Babcock NZ created a system that split the Devonport Navy dockyard in half, enhancing the safety of operations for people working at the site, and enabling ongoing vessel maintenance and service to take place during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 2020 Special Awards Winners

Tū Kaha (Courage) Award Winner: Keith Auterson

Keith went above and beyond in his work to maintain the NH90 and A109 helicopter engines at Ōhakea. He advocated for the best solution for the Defence Force and was comfortable working with technicians as well as senior leaders. Keith was prepared to challenge accepted practices and to advocate for change to lift aircraft performance.  

Tū Maia (Integrity) Award Winner: Lucy Sykes, Sykes Legal & Consulting

Lucy provides legal advice to the Ministry of Defence’s capability projects, with a level of commitment beyond her remit and far exceeding expectations.

Tū Tika (Commitment) Award Winner: Gordon Jones, City Rewinds Ltd

City Rewinds has worked closely with the Navy to maintain and repair damaged equipment, at short notice and with tight timeframes and, as a result of Gordon's commitment, operations have stayed on schedule.

Tū Tira (Comradeship) Award Winner: ESS

ESS overcame multiple challenges to continue to provide catering services to large numbers of New Zealand Defence Force and other government agency personnel during the aftermath of the terror attack in Christchurch, and throughout periods of COVID-19-related lockdown.

Whakatara (Challenge) Award Winner: Graham Walker, Terra CAT

Graham helped to deliver the CAT938K Loader and the CAT555D Skidder to Army Logistics. His enduring commitment, passion and innovative approach saw the successful customisation of commercial off-the-shelf vehicles into amphibious operations vehicles.


In addition to the winners, there were six other finalists as below.


Innovation Award Finalist: Royal Wolf

Royal Wolf provided the innovative design, construction and installation of temporary facilities made from their shipping containers. The success of this project has led to an entirely new strategy for Defence when considering temporary or deployable infrastructure facilities.

Innovation Award Finalist: Terra CAT

Terra Cat developed a new and vital Army vehicle, the Beach Preparation and Recovery Vehicle (BPRV). NZDF required an amphibious vehicle, which would enable them to operate on beaches and in shallow water. Terra Cat did not back away from this challenge and essentially developed the vehicle from scratch, using two of their own platforms. This vehicle has provided an effective tool for NZDF Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) Operations, and made Terra Cat a world leader in marinisation.

Strategic Partnership Award Finalist: Airbus NZ

This nomination recognises the continued years of service to the Royal New Zealand Air Force provided by Airbus NZ’s staff of experienced maintainers. These maintainers are fully embedded within the Air Force and are fully aligned with the RNZAF’s work culture and ethos, whilst spreading their own positive culture and professionalism to the Air Force maintainers.

Strategic Partnership Award Finalist: Safran Helicopters

Safran were nominated for their maintenance support work for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s fleet of A-109 and NH90 helicopter engines. The relationship has been built with a long-term focus, delivering value for money, maintaining RNZAF outputs and minimising risk. Safran has been customer focused and collaborative during their time working with the Air Force.

Provision of Product or Service Award Finalist: ESS

ESS provide catering services for Defence across the country. Recently, one of these facilities at Burnham Army Camp underwent a complete renovation, which was overseen by ESS. The new facilities are first class and continue to receive positive feedback.

Provision of Product or Service Award Finalist: Seaquest Marine

Seaquest Marine was nominated for their work helping to deliver HMNZS Aotearoa, the Royal New Zealand Navy’s newest and largest ship. Seaquest staff showed an immense passion for their work and impressed the project team with their professional and customer-focused work ethic.



The Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry were established in 1998 to highlight and reward the contribution made by industry to Defence. The Awards are administered by the New Zealand Defence Industry Advisory Council (NZDIAC) on behalf of the Minister of Defence.