2020 Awards for Excellence

The Defence Employer Support Council in association with the New Zealand Defence Force is proud to announce the finalists and winners of the 2020 Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence.


The ceremony, although delayed due to the impacts of the previous year, was held on Tuesday 25 May 2021, onboard the HMNZS Aotearoa, a fitting venue to mark this important celebration.


So much of our work as a Defence Force comes down to our people; outstanding people who work tirelessly and with commitment. 


Our organisation relies on a broad range of Employers to release thousands of Volunteers in the Reserves and NZ Cadet Forces for service.  Even further Employers work with our Youth Development Unit and the Ministry of Social Development in helping our young people turn their lives around through the Limited Service Volunteer programme.


The NZDF would like to thank those Employers for the sacrifices they make to allow our part-time people attend training, serve on operations and contribute to the well-being and defence of New Zealand.



Bevan Killick, Chair of the Defence Employer Support Council presents the Reserve Employer of the Year to the 2020 Winner, Mark Zarifeh of Raymond, Donnelly & Co


Commanding Officer, Captain Simon Rooke addresses the crowd onboard HMNZS Aotearoa


The 2020 Category Winners are:


Cadet Force Officer Employer of the Year - Winner



Lumen is a specialist group of engineers and staff who focus solely on transmission lines engineering and assets management. Headquartered in Christchurch, Lumen has consistently provided commendable support to FLTLT Leaman in his Cadet Officer Role, offering flexitime, use of office equipment, transport and supplies for NZ Cadet Forces, approving frequent leave requests and offering general support.


Cadet Force Officer Employer of the Year - Runner-up



Enrich+ works alongside those living with disabilities, autism or neurodiversity, their whānau and community, to live a live a life like any other.  Enrich+ has consistently provided support to LT Evans and the Hamilton City Cadet Unit (HCCU) through approving leave requests, fostering an excellent set of Values which flow into the HCCU, supporting the use of equipment, transport and supplies for NZ Cadet Forces as well as employing numerous NZCF Officers.


Employer Contribution to LSV - Winner

Santosh Parab on behalf of ADHB - Auckland District Health Board


The Auckland District Health Board has been actively participating in the LSV Programme for approximately five years. Santosh Parab, on behalf of ADHB displays ongoing commitment to, promotion of and provision of employment opportunities with the LSV Programme. The ADHB provide uplifting and inspiring mentorship to young people and have employed a number of trainees following their graduation.


Individual Contribution to LSV - Winner

Warner Cowin


Warner Cowin is the Chief Executive Officer of Height Project Management.  His actions as Patron and his overt advocacy for the LSV programme is commendable. He has offered significant and exemplary contribution towards shaping young people’s lives through the LSV Programme.


Reservist Employer of the Year

Each year the Minister of Defence formally recognises a selected Employer of Reserve Force personnel that has been identified as providing commendable support to their employee and the NZDF through a range of means.

This year’s Reservist Employer Nominees came from across the spectrum of private sector, academia, local and central government. 


Winner -           Raymond Donnelly & Co      

Runner-up -     Recreation Aotearoa            

Third Equal -    KPMG                                    

Third Equal -    KiwiRail                               


Reservist of the Year – Winner

WO2 Sean Cassidy

The New Zealand Defence Force Reservist of the Year recognises a Member of the NZDF in a given calendar year who most exemplifies the Defence Force values of Courage, Commitment, Comradeship, and Integrity in their service as a Reservist.

WO2 Sean Cassidy is a high performer and committed to his Reserve service. The enormous amount of time he spends in uniform shows the level of commitment he has to the NZDF. He is extremely hard working, committed and a critical part of his unit – an outstanding operator who has had an exceptional year.


Reservist of the Year – Runner-up

WO1 Denise Mariu


WO1 Mariu is a dedicated health professional who is fully committed to her role in the NZDF and in particular the Royal New Zealand Dental Corps.Despite the complexities of working in a private practice, she has never hesitated in the giving of her time, experience and knowledge to the NZDF.  WO1 Mariu is one of NZDF’s longest serving Reservists. She is highly regarded, fully committed, hardworking and respected across all rank ranges throughout RNZDC.


Community and Youth Health Engagement Award

WO1 Denise Mariu                



NZDF Senior Leadership gathered to express their gratitude to the Awards recipients.

From Left to Right: Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, Vice Chief of Defence Force, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies, Chief People Officer, Liz Huckerby, Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short, Bevan Killick, Chair of the Defence Employer Support Council, Chief of Army, Major General John Boswell and Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark.