New Zealand’s Top Soldiers

6 December 2011

Private Sean Spivey, a sniper with 2/1 Battalion, RNZIR and Private Kieran Manaena, a Supply Technician with Trentham Regional Support Battalion have been named the Army’s Top Soldiers.

Private Sean Spivey (left) and Private Kieran Manaena have been named the Army's Top Soldiers (AW-11-1206-1).
Private Sean Spivey (left) and Private Kieran Manaena have been named the Army's Top Soldiers (AW-11-1206-1).

They have earned themselves places on the prestigious US Army Warrior Leaders Course in Hawaii next year.

Over the past few months, the NZ Army Top Soldier competition has been running. Open only to the rank of Private, the selection process used for the competition was the 17 deployable criteria, including marksmanship, fitness, health standard, readiness and past performance, that a soldier must meet annually. The Army has 1667 Private soldiers.

Chief of Army, Major General Tim Keating said being chosen as a Top Soldier was an outstanding achievement. "These soldiers have set and maintained very high all arms standards in their chosen profession. They epitomise the standards the Army expects of its young soldiers, and we are proud of the effort and commitment they have shown."

Both men will attend the US Army, Warrior Leaders Course in Hawaii to acknowledge their achievement.

PTE Spivey, 26 and originally from Raglan, has been in the Army for four years. He says he thought his platoon sergeant was joking when he told him he had made it to the final pair. "I was pretty shocked. Because it was just business as usual I had forgotten about the competition." He joined the Army as a rifleman, and has served in Afghanistan. He says he has always enjoyed marksmanship, and on his return from Afghanistan was posted to 2/1 Battalion’s sniper cell. The trip to Hawaii is not the only event he has to look forward to - on 24 December he is due to become a father for the first time.

PTE Manaena, 23 and from Upper Hutt, said he was "speechless" when he was told he was a Top Soldier. He has been in the Army for five years, joining shortly after he left Upper Hutt College. His twin brother Johnny also works for the Army in Trentham as a civilian storeman.

"Hawaii will be awesome. The course is something to really aspire to."

This page was last reviewed on 6 December 2011.