Courageous Leader Takes Defence Force's Top Accolade


LTCOL Childs with her NZDF Person of the Year award.

1 December 2017

Dedication to the New Zealand Defence Force’s core values of courage, commitment and comradeship have earned Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Melanie Childs, the New Zealand Defence Force’s Person of the Year award.

The announcement was made today at the NZDF Person of the Year awards held at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch.

Speaking at the event, Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating described LTCOL Childs, the Commander 2nd Combat Service Support Battalion of the NZ Army, as a courageous leader who shows the way in everything she does.

“LTCOL Childs physical courage was recognised in 2017 with the award of a Defence Meritorious Service Medal for her resolve and leadership while working at the United Nations Headquarters in Juba, South Sudan.

“Over a five-day period in July 2016 the UN Headquarters was caught in a crossfire when heavy fire broke out between rival rebel groups using mortars, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. LTCOL Childs took charge of infantry and police units that were in disarray, and helped shepherd thousands of displaced refugees who had been living in camps around the UN base, to areas that offered them greater protection,” said LTGEN Keating.
Her moral courage had also been highlighted, with LTCOL Childs having showed resolve in challenging inappropriate behaviours within the Defence Force, making it a better and safer place for everyone. LTCOL Childs is also Chairperson of the Linton Community Board, where she co-ordinates activities such as deployed families dinners, Linton family days, and other community activities.
LTCOL Childs is always willing to share her knowledge with others, recently lecturing at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana.  LTCOL Childs also finds the time and energy to compete at the highest levels in triathlon and in April 2017 she won a silver medal for her age group at the World Masters Games.
LTCOL Childs said it was extremely humbling for her service to be recognised today in front of her colleagues.
“I’m in a bit of shock. To be standing here in my home town is a bit surreal” said LTCOL Childs.
“I am honoured and extremely humbled to even be considered”.
In selecting the Person of the Year, the judges considered to what extent the individual exemplified all of the NZDF’s core values and how they lived these in their daily role. The contribution had to be over and above that expected in their position and the recipient had to stand out as role model for others.

This page was last reviewed on 3 December 2017.