Selwyn Ponga-Davis and NZDF Chief People Officer Debbie Francis with one of Mr Ponga-Davis’ safety initiatives at Linton Camp.
2 December 2016
Selwyn Ponga-Davis has been named the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) inaugural Civilian of the Year. Mr Ponga-Davis received the award from NZDF Chief People Officer Debbie Francis in a ceremony held at Linton Camp this week.
As Civilian of the Year, Mr Ponga-Davis has also been nominated for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Person of the Year Award which will be announced on 8 December.
Ms Francis says the new Civilian of the Year Award celebrates NZDF civilian personnel who go above and beyond to support their military colleagues.
“Selwyn exhibits and promotes the NZDF values of courage, commitment and comradeship and it is my great pleasure to make the inaugural NZDF Civilian of the Year Award to him,” says Ms Francis.
Mr Ponga-Davis, originally from Whanganui, is the Health and Safety Adviser for 1 (NZ) Brigade which is based in both Linton and Burnham camps. He led a positive culture shift in the way the New Zealand Army, and the local community, embrace health and safety in work and at home. One of the key initiatives was the “Mates For Life” project – a simple but powerful message of looking after your colleagues, military or civilian, from the time you join up until after you retire.
Major (MAJ) Tim Woodman, 1 (NZ) Brigade’s risk and safety manager, says Mr Ponga-Davis’ passion and commitment extend well past his work duties and he is the “go-to” civvy at Linton Camp.
“Selwyn actively leads a number of camp activities including the camp’s kapa haka group, and sports and health programmes.
“He started a well-being group at Linton camp for civilians with diabetes and helped to dramatically improve their overall health – he’s a true mate for life,” says MAJ Woodman.
Mr Ponga-Davis says it all comes down to whānaungatanga or looking after your community.
“I want to acknowledge all civilians in what they do to support the operational outputs of our men and women in uniform.
“I am humbled by the award and will always strive to uphold the core values of our Defence Force,” he says.