Law student wins Defence Reservist of the year

Private Michael Rennie with his winners trophy
Private Michael Rennie with his winner’s trophy (WN10-0178-001)

15 September 2010

The Defence Force’s Reservist of the Year title has been won by Private Michael Rennie from Gisborne, who is studying for a law degree at Victoria University in Wellington.

Private Rennie took out the competition which pitted representatives of the 11 major Army and Navy Reserve units from North Cape to Bluff against each other in a test of military skills held in Wellington on Saturday.

The contestants were assessed in their performance of a series of military tasks such as weapons handling, first aid and physical fitness, as well as having to perform in a public speaking competition.

Private Rennie, who only joined the Army as a reservist at the start of 2008, says the title means a lot to him: “Lots of people put in time and effort every day in planning and then carrying out our training, helping us get on extra Defence Force courses and ultimately in working hard in trying to get us deployed overseas. Winning Reservist of the Year was a little bit of payback for them and it’s also a privilege to be representing everyone else in my unit.

“I joined [as a reservist] because I had always been interested in the challenges and activities that military people deal with and overcome. I thought it was perfect timing, fitting in nicely around my university summer holidays.”

Reservists are part time members of the military who, in addition to their full time jobs or study serve in the Army, Navy and Air Force in their spare time. The role of the Reserve Forces is to provide supplementary manpower to the New Zealand Defence Force as and when required for specific tasks. Many reservists take leave from their regular employment to serve on Defence Force operations in places like the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Afghanistan.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp, the guest speaker at the award evening, congratulated the winner, place-getters and the other contestants on their achievements in the competition.

“They are fine examples of the calibre of our Reserve Forces. Their performance demonstrates the skills that Reserves have. In addition to core military functions Reserves are able to assist with local emergencies and make a valuable contribution to the wider society,” he said.  

“This was clearly demonstrated in the New Zealand Defence Force response to the Canterbury earthquake, in which reservists are playing a significant role.”

“With the current high operational tempo we are asking more of reservists of all three Services. They are deployed to the four corners of the globe, some taking more than six months from their lives to undertake specialist training and deploy to hostile environments,” Dr Mapp said.

The Reservist of the Year award was presented by Mrs Joan Clouston, the daughter of Sir Harold Barrowclough who was a reservist known for his conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership during WWl and WWll.

Second prize went to Private Adam Friend of 2 Canterbury and Nelson Marlborough West Coast Battalion Group; and third prize went to Private Hugh Johnstone of the 3 Auckland and Northland Battalion Group.


For further information please contact Defence Communications Group, Zen Gregor on 021 840 358.

This page was last reviewed on 20 January 2011.