Soldier named as NZ Defence Force Person of the Year

NZDF Person of the Year Warrant Officer Class One Shane Vooght.

The courage, commitment and leadership shown by Warrant Officer Class One Shane Vooght, of Palmerston North, has earned him the title of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Person of the Year.

WO1 Vooght, (45) was, until recently, the Regimental Sergeant Major of 2 Engineer Regiment at Linton Army Camp. He is now the RSM of the Training and Educational Directorate, based at Hokowhitu.

The NZDF Person of the Year was first awarded in 2009 to celebrate the Defence Force’s values of courage, comradeship, commitment and integrity and to recognise and honour someone who has stood out in their commitment to these values.

The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, who presented the award at a special ceremony on Tuesday 13 December, said: “WO1 Vooght has steered the 2nd Engineer Regiment through a tumultuous 12 months which was also one of extreme personal difficulty for himself and his family due to the illness and eventual death of his wife Michelle.

“As Regimental Sergeant Major WO1 Vooght has had a key role in preparing the Unit for its many overseas commitments from Afghanistan to Antarctica.” 

During the year the Regiment dealt with many unforeseen incidents, two of them in New Zealand. It was part of the Defence Force’s response to the Canterbury earthquake, provided assistance to Operation RENA, and assisted with the drought relief effort in the Pacific, providing and installing emergency water supply equipment on Tuvalu. The Regiment was also deployed as part of major joint and combined international exercises in Tonga, Vanuatu, and the United Kingdom.

LT GEN Jones said, “Warrant Officer Vooght has demonstrated his commitment, leadership skills and integrity throughout his Army career. In 2001, WO1 Vooght, then in the rank of staff sergeant, was admitted as an Additional Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for the exemplary leadership, professionalism, integrity and commitment displayed during deployment to Timor Leste.

“He continues to personify those same qualities in 2011, representing the core values of the NZDF. Warrant Officer Class One Vooght, is a very worthy recipient of being named the NZDF Person of the Year for 2011.”
As winner, WO Vooght received a trophy and special study prize, which can be used in an area of professional development of his choosing.



The NZDF Person of the Year award was approved in 2009 by the Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae. The award is given to the person who has best exemplified the Defence Force values of Courage, Commitment, Comradeship and Integrity over the previous 12 months.

Nominees have to have demonstrated these values through their work at the Defence Force, or in some other aspect of their lives, for example, in civic or charity work, commitment to community or sporting groups - or some combination of all of these.

All 14,000 members of the NZDF - Regular Force, Reserve and Civilian - are free to nominate their peers and to be nominated.

For further information or to interview WO1 Vooght please contact Ally Clelland, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 130.

This page was last reviewed on 14 December 2011.