Kapiti Woman Recognised by Defence Force for Trailblazing Work

17 July 2019

A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) lawyer, Lieutenant Colonel Kate Hill, has been recognised by the NZDF for the key role she played in developing a new approach to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the force.

Lieutenant Colonel Hill was presented recently with a Defence Meritorious Service Medal by Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short at a ceremony in Wellington.

The New Zealand Defence Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) recognises
exceptionally meritorious service by any member of the NZDF.

Her citation said Lieutenant Colonel Hill played an integral role in ensuring the success of the project to respond to harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, called Operation Respect, under extremely tight deadlines. 

“This included providing expert legal advice, liaising with internal and external stakeholders, and where appropriate engaging with external legal specialists. She persevered, displaying courage in the face of adversity and a passion for the overall cause, that is, the elimination of harmful sexual behaviour,” the citation read.

“She took her knowledge of military law and life experiences, listened to expert advice, feedback and learnings from others and helped to build the solution. Her most difficult task was to carefully balance the needs of the victim/survivor with the needs of the organisation.

“Over the same timeframe she was also dealing with a number of other competing, and significant legal issues. This included developments in the military justice system that complemented the work being undertaken with Operation Respect.”

Lieutenant Colonel Hill said she was honoured to receive the award.

“The evolution of Operation Respect and the changes in the legislation to uphold victims’ rights are very important developments for the NZDF and I am proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of these significant steps forward,” she said.

“However, I was only one member of an impressive and courageous team who led these changes.”

Lieutenant Colonel Hill, who was raised in Paekakariki and went to Kapiti College, is the daughter of a military man – her father Murray served in the Second World War and was a regimental signals officer serving with the New Zealand Artillery in the Korean War.

“While I never consciously thought about following in his footsteps, it must have always been in the back of my mind,” she said. “While I was at Massey University in the late 1980s, walking past the recruiting office in Palmerston North almost every day, the most natural thing seemed to be to step inside and sign up.

“I was young, fit and ready for adventure, a loyal New Zealander with a desire to serve my country and community. Thirty-one years later, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, because it has definitely been an adventure.”

Among her career highlights have been commanding a civil-military cooperation team with the United Nations in the Middle East, exercising and providing humanitarian aid in the Pacific with United States forces and working in the emergency response centre in Christchurch after the Christchurch earthquake.

“I have also had the opportunity to study, to travel and to represent the NZDF in a wide range of domestic and international forums, and many other fantastic training opportunities I could never have had outside the Defence Force, including parachuting, shooting, driving and survival training,” she said.

Lieutenant Colonel Hill is currently the Implementation Officer for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 - Women, Peace and Security, based at Joint Forces Headquarters at Trentham. 

This page was last reviewed on 16 July 2019.