18 July 2019
A soldier from Dannevirke has been recognised by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for his outstanding contribution to the Kaikoura earthquake response.
Sergeant Simon Peffers, of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistics Regiment, has received a Chief of Defence Force Commendation for his role as a key member of the earthquake response team.
Chief of Defence Force Commendations are awarded for performance well above that usually expected of a person performing their role and recipients will have showed exceptional devotion to duty and displayed dedication to the completion of tasks, or introduced significant innovation.
Immediately following the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016, Sergeant Peffers was required to deploy as a member of the NZDF’s response team, as commander of the Joint Movements Control Centre.
The citation noted that Sergeant Peffers was at the time a junior Sergeant who found himself responsible for providing technical advice to the force commander and coordinating the movement of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft through a multi-national landing zone which, at the height of the operation, was handling a load every six or seven minutes.
As the requirement for movement operations grew he was required to manage an important transition in the focus of the mission, from the initial evacuation of foreign nationals and the local population to the provision of humanitarian assistance stores and personnel.
“Sergeant Peffers performed in an exemplary manner and well above the standard expected of a person of his rank and experience throughout the earthquake response mission,” his citation reads.
“It was a performance that was crucial to the success of the NZDF relief operations in Kaikoura and was conducted on a public stage and alongside some of New Zealand’s international partners. His efforts did much to enhance the reputation of the NZDF and he is a deserving recipient of a Chief of Defence Force Commendation.”
Sergeant Peffers, who is currently based at Linton Military Camp as an Aerial Delivery Instructor in the Trade Training School Movements Wing, said it was a humbling experience to be acknowledged for his work following the earthquake.
“Most people don’t get the opportunity to assist others like we do,” he said. “We were just doing what was expected of us, and for others to comment on our efforts and provide positive feedback means a lot.
“This will always be a highlight of my career.”
Sergeant Peffers knew early he wanted a career in the military. While a pupil at Dannevirke South School he went to a New Zealand Army stand in an open field at the school gala, had his face painted in camouflage, sat in a Unimog and looked at some hardware.
“At that point I turned to Dad and said, ‘I want to join the Army’. About 10 years later, I did.”
Another career highlight was a posting to Antarctica, working with United States and Australian personnel.
“Not many people can say they have been to that continent, so that was a big thrill,” he said.
“Any operation serving overseas is rewarding. It poses new challenges and it is exciting to be able to test yourself.”