Exemplary Young Leader Named NZDF's Person of the Year

Lance Corporal Amber-Lee Nui has won the New Zealand Defence Force’s top accolade.
Lance Corporal Amber-Lee Nui has won the New Zealand Defence Force’s top accolade.

8 December 2016

A New Zealand Army chef setting high standards for all those around her has been named the 2016 New Zealand Defence Force Person of the Year.

Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, today gave Lance Corporal Amber-Lee Nui the Defence Force’s top accolade.

Lieutenant General Keating said the Person of Year Award celebrated civilian and military members of the Defence Force who embodied its values of courage, commitment and comradeship.

“Our Defence Force’s greatest strength does not come from the numbers of people and equipment we can put in the field, but from their quality,” Lieutenant General Keating said.

“Lance Corporal Nui has made living the Defence Force values and displaying high standards a hallmark of her career and she is a worthy recipient of the NZDF Person of the Year Award.”

Lance Corporal Nui, from Waipukurau, excels at her chosen trade, having been selected to represent the NZDF at the Torque D’or National Culinary Competition. In her current role she is in charge of a shift at the Combined Mess in Linton.

Her Person of the Year citation says she sets an exceptional example to all those around her and her enthusiasm and caring nature rubs off on her peers, creating a positive work environment wherever she may be tasked.

Lance Corporal Nui completed the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Course in 2015 and was awarded the Regimental Trophy. Her commanders singled out her strong “moral compass” and courage to challenge contrary behaviour as a vital aspect of her leadership. 

Discovering the high level of respect her peers and commanders hold for her and the fact she has won the NZDF Person of the Year Award was still sinking in, Lance Corporal Nui said.

“I’m shocked to be honest and seeing all the things people have said and written about me is quite humbling,” she said.

Lance Corporal Nui grew up as the only girl in a family of six children. One of those brothers, already a serving member, encouraged her to join the New Zealand Army.

“He said it was a great life and he’s right,” she said. “The friendships you make here are very special.”

This year, Lance Corporal Nui spent two months in Fiji after Tropical Cyclone Winston and on return had just one week to prepare before deploying as part of the contingent for the 75th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Crete.

In Crete her maturity and professionalism shone through and she forged strong bonds with some of the local people in Galatas, in particular a nine-year-old girl called Christina.

“She was very sweet and was trying to teach me Greek, but I admit I wasn’t that good at it. Their whole family pretty much adopted the entire contingent,” Lance Corporal Nui said.

A very focussed soldier, she is looking ahead to 2017 and the Senior Chef’s Course she will complete. She also intends to expand her mentoring skills.

“I want to help people to achieve their goals and improve their mind-set,” she said.

This page was last reviewed on 8 December 2016.