2023 AWARD WINNERS

2023 Award winners

Security Professional of the Year

Neekita Prakash, FIRST Security

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  From the very first day that Neekita started with FIRST Security she has shown professionalism and commitment to the Electronic Monitoring Services team, which is a nation-wide mobile patrol team specifically trained and deployed to respond to alerts triggered by monitoring devices worn by people (wearers) serving non-custodial sentences, bail, and orders in the corrections system. She carries out her duties with great care and respect for the wearer, and this, coupled with her willingness to help others, saw her promoted to “Team Leader” within two months of starting. Whilst the nomination for Neekita talks glowingly of her high standards, professionalism and capabilities, the judges paid particular reference to an incident that occurred approximately 8.30pm Saturday 13 May 2023 when Neekita demonstrated true courage when she went to the aid of a member of the public who was being assaulted by her partner whilst driving a vehicle. As Neekita exited the Southern Motorway she heard a persistent horn. She didn’t think too much about it initially but when she pulled up alongside the vehicle in question, the female driver was screaming for help. Behing her sat a male, who was punching the back of the headrest. Neekita wound down the passenger window and asked the woman to pull over, but she responded that she couldn’t as the assailant would not allow it. Also, in the car was a teenage girl in the front passenger seat and a baby (in a capsule) in the backseat. Neekita told the woman, who was clearly being injured by the assault to keep driving and she would follow.   Neekita called 111 to request emergency services and stayed on the call whilst she followed the victim’s vehicle. At the next set of traffic lights, the assailant in the back seat jumped out of the vehicle and ran away. At this time Neekita gestured to the woman to proceed through the lights and pull over and from there took her first aid kit from her vehicle and administered first aid to the woman, who was bleeding and bruised, and to the teenager and baby who also had extensive bruising, whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive. At this stage, the assailant returned, grabbed the woman and bashed her head into the bonnet of the car. Neekita intervened, positioning herself between the assailant and the woman. The assailant then attacked Neekita, including presenting a knife and threatening to kill her along with the three victims. Neekita instructed the victims to keep back and away from the knife wielding assailant whilst she continued to shield them. On hearing the sound of the ambulance getting closer, the assailant fled on foot again with Neekita observing the direction he travelled so she could relay the information to the police. Once the ambulance arrived and officers were attending to the victims, Neekita returned to her patrol vehicle and followed the assailant who she quickly found hiding in an alleyway. On being threatened by the assailant who had approached her vehicle, Neekita unlocked and opened her door with force into the assailant who lost his footing and fell back onto the road. She then reversed and parked her vehicle and proceeded to illuminate the assailant with her heavy-duty torch until police arrived and arrested him. Once the assailant was in police custody, Neekita drove back to the ambulance to check on the victims and where ambulance staff also checked her for any injuries. A very, very worthy recipient for our Security Professional of the Year.

Customer Champion of the Year

Natasha Pennell, FIRST Security

(Award accepted by a colleague on Natasha’s behalf)

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Natasha is FIRST Security’s Wellington-based Senior Account Manager. Since joining FIRST Security in 2018, Natasha has through personal initiative, abundance of enthusiasm, and dogged commitment, made a major impact on the business and on the security outcomes of her clients.

She is described as a person who is prepared to go the full distance to achieve the right outcome. She is supremely motivated and all about the client and getting the best outcomes for all parties. Natasha has a unique and widely recognised ability to “reach” people in terms of her relationships with both colleagues and clients, and this is what enables her to formulate and deploy the most effective security solutions for her clients.

As one customer referee states “From the very, very beginnings of our contact with Natasha, we knew she was exceptional. She’s super positive, very professional and has fantastic communication skills”.

Design and Support Electronic Sector Professional of the Year

Simon Paul, ICE Security Ltd

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Simon is the national lead design and support engineer for ICE Security. From initial customer concept through to design and implementation and technical support Simon has a hand in all aspects of the process and continues to refine these to his high expectation.

Simon has won manufacturer awards in the past for his work with third party integrations and he has developed strong relationships within the security community and is well respected for his knowledge.

A referee states “whatever Simon sets his mind to, he achieves – and always with the customer front of mind”.

Electronic Security Trainee of the Year

Josh Weber, Advanced Security Group

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Josh joined Advanced Security Group in July 2021 and has a background in operational security with roles at New Zealand Defence Force and First Security. He was often on the other side of the screen as an end user and then decided to get more hands-on with the installation and servicing and took up a position as an apprentice technician.

It was immediately apparent that Josh has a voracious appetite for training and professional development.

He has completed his Level 3 Electrotechnology training and is well on the way towards his Level 4 Electronic Security, and his limited electrical licence.

Josh sets very high standards in his personal and professional growth, and he was recently promoted to Wellington Project Team Leader for Advanced Security.

Guarding Sector Trainee of the Year

Lily Wilson, Alpha Protection Services Ltd

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On the 28 October last year, Lily Watson was working with a colleague doing her patrol route in the Christchurch CBD. They had finished their lockdown as scheduled and were completing their logbook entry for the customer when Lily heard a loud cracking sound coming from inside the premise. She felt uneasy and told her partner they should investigate, even though it would put them slightly behind on their patrol.

After re-entering the complex Lily could hear an odd buzzing sound and when she investigated, she found the cleaner lying on the ground next to the still-going floor polisher and with a large head wound and having a seizure.

Lily immediately had her partner call an ambulance whilst she placed the cleaner into the recovery position. She then retrieved a nearby defibrillator and followed the instructions of the 111 operator until the critical response team arrived with skilled paramedics. The gentleman was rushed to hospital in a critical condition and was later reported as being in a serious but stable condition having experienced a brain bleed.

Install and Service Electronic Sector (Corporate) Technician of the Year

Nathan Keepa, Advanced Security Group

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Nathan’s nomination referred to his outstanding delivery of several extremely technically challenging electronic security projects for a New Zealand government agency.

Whilst a lot of the content around the nature of the work is confidential, it is evident that Nathan provided an extremely high level of technical skills and excelled as the technical lead on projects across the South Island and even offshore locations.

 

Nathan has been described as being extremely humble in terms of his achievements, but his nomination clearly demonstrated a professional with superb workmanship, attention to detail and a desire to deliver the absolute best he possibly can.

Install and Service Electronic Sector (SME) Technician of the Year

Daniel Malan, Global Security Solutions Ltd

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Daniel is described as not just an exemplary electronic security design and install technician, but also a true customer champion. His dedication to providing unparalleled service and support to his customers sets him apart from his peers in the industry.

One of Daniel’s remarkable qualities is his goal to “get it right, first time, every time”. This mindset drives his work ethic and attention to detail. By meticulously planning and executing installations and services, he minimises the likelihood of issues arising, thus saving clients time, unnecessary disruptions, and costs.

His dedication to achieving excellence in every aspect of his work has had a profound impact on his employers’ reputation and growth.

Michael Pepper Award for Outstanding Security Training Initiative

Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty Security Team

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Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty Security Team provides in-house security staffing for Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals. 

Led by Damian Morrison, the Management Team’s commitment towards training has created robust conversations around what would the best training look like for a specialist team such as hospital security. Challenges include staff working 24/7 rosters, limited access to training classes and a team predominantly Māori and Pasifika in ethnicity and middle to mature aged.

Whilst all staff are required to undertake in-house Crisis Prevention Intervention training, the management team also offered the Level 3 Security Qualification with supported learning via Stratcom Security.

Using skilled verifiers and assessors, staff have been able to utilize supported blended learning using on-line modules and within the first six months, over 50% of staff have already successfully completed the training.

Monitoring / Communication Centre Operator of the Year

Jaye Ratu, FIRST Security

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Jaye is the Communications Centre Operator extraordinaire at FIRST Security. Her role as National Dispatch Services Centre Team Leader, sees her move between developing her team’s capability as well as undertaking a hands-on role within the Centre.

Jaye has been an integral part of the team since 2017. She is respected and highly trusted by her peers and the Senior Leadership Team. Through her commitment, outstanding performance, and reliability, she has been through a series of promotions from Operator, Senior Operator to Supervisor, and most recently to Team Leader.

Letters of reference provided with Jaye’s nomination talk glowingly of her professionalism, commitment, communication skills and as the go-to person.

Outstanding New Product or Service of the Year

Responda, FIRST Security

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Responda is a ground-breaking solution that combines the human-led on-the-ground security patrol infrastructure and experience of FIRST Security with powerful geospatial technologies and a meticulously developed app-based user interface, on-demand booking service and online payment platform. The service provides home and business owners with an alternative to fixed term contracts with services providers and is a welcome innovation.

Outstanding Skills for Industry Employee of the Year

Knikita Tarawa, Red Badge Group

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Since leaving school in 2006 Knikita worked in the hospitality industry however she found work sporadic and often part-time. In 2020 she approached MSD looking for a role where she could work full-time and with a clear development pathway. She was referred to the NZSA Skills for Industry Team who arranged an interview with Red Badge.

Since then, Knikita has not looked back and is a valued member of the Botany Town Centre security team. She has proven herself to be reliable, conscientious, willing to learn and with a desire to take on additional responsibility.

Knikita was recently a recipient of an award by the Counties Manukau Police for “Outstanding Service to the Prevention of Crime” and her nomination refers to numerous occasions where she has displayed initiative, quick thinking, and bravery in the performance of her duties.

Outstanding Staff Retention/Staff Development Programme

Alarm Watch

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Alarm Watch is an alarm monitoring business with call centre services based in Whanganui. They currently have in excess of 70 staff and protect over 30,000 customers.

The company places the highest importance on staff retention and satisfaction, and this was evidenced by their comprehensive nomination detailing a wide range of initiatives, including free gym membership through to staff rewards and celebrations.

The success of these initiatives is captured via their own custom software that provides arrange of “success” features including staff tenure and satisfaction.

Patrol Officer of the Year

Neekita Prakash, FIRST Security

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From the very first day that Neekita started with FIRST Security she has shown professionalism and commitment to the Electronic Monitoring Services team, which is a nation-wide mobile patrol team specifically trained and deployed to respond to alerts triggered by monitoring devices worn by people (wearers) serving non-custodial sentences, bail, and orders in the corrections system. She carries out her duties with great care and respect for the wearer, and this, coupled with her willingness to help others, saw her promoted to “Team Leader” within two months of starting.

Whilst the nomination for Neekita talks glowingly of her high standards, professionalism and capabilities, the judges paid particular reference to an incident that occurred approximately 8.30pm Saturday 13th May 2023 when Neekita demonstrated true courage when she went to the aid of a member of the public who was being assaulted by her partner whilst driving a vehicle. 

As Neekita exited the Southern Motorway she heard a persistent horn. She didn’t think too much about it initially but when she pulled up alongside the vehicle in question, the female driver was screaming for help. Behing her sat a male, who was punching the back of the headrest. Neekita wound down the passenger window and asked the woman to pull over, but she responded that she couldn’t as the assailant would not allow it. Also, in the car was a teenage girl in the front passenger seat and a baby (in a capsule) in the backseat. Neekita told the woman, who was clearly being injured by the assault to keep driving and she would follow.

Neekita called 111 to request emergency services and stayed on the call whilst she followed the victim’s vehicle. At the next set of traffic lights, the assailant in the back seat jumped out of the vehicle and ran away. At this time Neekita gestured to the woman to proceed through the lights and pull over and from there took her first aid kit from her vehicle and administered first aid to the woman, who was bleeding and bruised, and to the teenager and baby who also had extensive bruising, whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

At this stage, the assailant returned, grabbed the woman and bashed her head into the bonnet of the car. Neekita intervened, positioning herself between the assailant and the woman. The assailant then attacked Neekita, including presenting a knife and threatening to kill her along with the three victims. Neekita instructed the victims to keep back and away from the knife wielding assailant whilst she continued to shield them.

On hearing the sound of the ambulance getting closer, the assailant fled on foot again with Neekita observing the direction he travelled so she could relay the information to the police.

 

Once the ambulance arrived and officers were attending to the victims, Neekita returned to her patrol vehicle and followed the assailant who she quickly found hiding in an alleyway. On being threatened by the assailant who had approached her vehicle, Neekita unlocked and opened her door with force into the assailant who lost his footing and fell back onto the road. She then reversed and parked her vehicle and proceeded to illuminate the assailant with her heavy-duty torch until police arrived and arrested him.

Once the assailant was in police custody, Neekita drove back to the ambulance to check on the victims and where ambulance staff also checked her for any injuries.

Security Administrator of the Year

Debra Fruean, FIRST Security

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Debra is described as an administrator extraordinaire at FIRST Security. For the past seven years, her role as Electronic Monitoring Support Administrator has seen her recognized as the go-to support person by the FIRST Security Electronic Monitoring and Dispatch Services teams, as well as the Department of Corrections. She does everything in her power to ensure the smooth running of these areas of the business.

The judges commented on the number of outstanding references provided in support of Debra, covering a number of internal and external customers, and all 100% supportive of her attention to detail, her technical and practical knowledge, and always going above and beyond in her efforts to ensure success.

Security Consultant of the Year

Lee Ashton, Optic Security Group

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Lee is a critical member of the Optic Security team, responsible for security risk advisory, design, and technical scope in relation to a range of high-profile projects. He brings a deep understanding of security consultancy, complicated solution builds and integration, having worked on some of the most secure and complex sites in New Zealand where there is no room for error and sound decision making is paramount.

Referees talk about Lee’s technical acumen, his professionalism and excellent rapport with customers. He is described as understanding customers and working closely alongside all stakeholders ensuring a roadmap is crafted to ensure all requirements are met.

Lee embodies the ethos of customer-driven advisory services, always communicating at the customers level, imparting knowledge and wise counsel, and providing security risk advice that is always standards-based, and fit-for-purpose.

Security Integrator of the Year

Richard Neeson, Advanced Security Group

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Richard has over 20 years of experience in the security industry and excels with his technical knowledge, system and integration capabilities, and his ability to problem solve.

As the principal Technician Integration Engineer for Foodstuffs South Island, Richard oversees in excess of 200 sites, including distribution centres and the head office.

Customer references included the following testimonials:

“Richard is held in extremely high regard, and his knowledge of security systems and the ins and outs of our business and sites is integral to the successful day to day running of Foodstuffs South Island.”

“Richard goes above and beyond what is required and often volunteers to take calls at all hours of the day and night to ensure business continuity. No problem is too big or small and if he doesn’t have an immediate answer, he can be relied on to find a quick solution”.

Security Officer of the Year

Leitualamavae Vaa and Shelley Herbert, Armourguard Security

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Approximately 1530 hours on the 10th December last year, an altercation occurred between a couple at the Otahuhu Rail Station that resulted in the female becoming extremely upset and suicidal, threatening to jump over the rail bridge.

Leitualamavae and Shelley initially held the woman’s hands and provided reassurance, however after calming her down the woman became agitated again and ran back to the rail bridge and started climbing over the rail, forcing Leitualamavae and Shelley to pull her back down and away from the rail.

They continued to hold, reassure and gently restrain the woman pending arrival of emergency services.

Security Supervisor/Operations Manager of the Year

Isaac Taingahue, Optic Security Group

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Isaac is Optic Security Group’s Wellington Operations Manager and has an impressive track record of experience having managed many significant projects, including the Victoria University of Wellington’s Gateway Project, the installation of integrated security systems at Transpower NZ, and the installation of access control, CCTV and duress systems for The Great War Exhibition.

The submission for Isaac included glowing references from within the company, his team and customers. They all comment on his growth from a technician to a manager and leader who is widely respected and focused on delivering exceptional and innovative service.

As one customer noted, Isaac displays the following qualities:

  • He is respectful, kind and courteous.
  • He listens resonantly.
  • He solves problems.
  • He is a great communicator.
  • He delivers what he promises.
  • He builds long-term relationships.

Security Trainer or Workplace Assessor of the Year

Nicky Eastwood, Allied Security

(Award accepted by a colleague on Nicky’s behalf)

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Nicky is passionate about training, and it shows in her preparation, her ability to communicate with learners who are often new to the industry and her commitment to the health and safety of staff. Her ability to wade through the paperwork, run training sessions and keep her eye on the progress of hundreds of staff and still find time to participate in Ringa Hora planning workshops is very impressive.

Nicky has been instrumental in setting up a literacy and numeracy programme for Allied Security and as a result she can take the credit for a large number of security officers who have completed additional training in health and safety units, first aid and communication skills.

Specialised Security Services Professional of the Year

Jill Priest, FIRST Security

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As FIRST Security’s Client Services Manager for the Bay of Plenty, Jill is responsible for customers in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne areas. It is a large area of responsibility and includes regulatory compliance activities including animal control, smoke and noise complaints and freedom camper regulation.

Jill gives a human face and formidable personality to security for her customers, and this combined with a mastery of her trade, makes her a truly inspiring leader and customer champion. As customers noted, Jill is innovative in developing security deployments and solutions that meet their specific needs. If service delivery isn’t exceeding customer expectations, she finds a better way.

One example of this is where Jill significantly reduced the incidents of illegal camping and fostered a culture of compliance among visitors by taking an educational approach, leading to a more harmonious coexistence with the local community.