1 June 2020
New Zealand Army Brigadier Michael Shapland has received a Distinguished Service Decoration in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his 35 years of service to the New Zealand Defence Force.
Brigadier Shapland, who lives in Wellington, has served in a variety of appointments in New Zealand and overseas during his lengthy career, notably in South Sudan from May 2018 to May 2019.
Brigadier Shapland was the Force Chief of Staff to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), responsible for the planning, conduct and oversight of peacekeeping operations for more than 14,000 military staff from more than 60 countries.
His citation said in the role he demonstrated interpersonal and political expertise, military strategy and leadership in support of the mission, which became instrumental in protecting the people of South Sudan. This involved dealing with human rights violations and other atrocities in one of the most dangerous and demanding peacekeeping missions in the world.
“He instigated a number of key initiatives within the UNMISS Force to improve operational efficiency of the military component,” the citation said. “He also championed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security by supporting greater roles for women in command, staff and force roles.
“Brigadier Shapland’s contributions were recognised by both the Force Commander and Deputy Force Commander of UNMISS as exceeding reasonable expectations. He sets an inspiring example of selfless service for New Zealanders.
“His latest United Nations deployment represents the culmination of his loyal and dedicated service over the last 35 years, and has enhanced the reputation of the New Zealand Defence Force and of New Zealanders in the United Nations organisation and internationally.”
Brigadier Shapland said he was honoured to receive the decoration.
“I am very proud to get this recognition,” he said. “It also reflects on the sacrifices my family has had to make while I have been away on deployment.”
Brigadier Shapland, who grew up in Christchurch, joined the Army almost by accident in 1984, having started to study law at Canterbury University. However, a chat after a rugby game with then Captain Ants Howie, an Army recruiting officer, convinced him of the opportunities available in the military.
And he hasn’t been disappointed.
“The experiences, challenges and opportunities that I have had throughout my military career have been amazing,” he said.
“I am still excited about getting out of bed every morning and going to the office. The difference from a military perspective is that that office could be anywhere in the world.”
He found the South Sudan posting long and testing, but extremely rewarding because of the opportunities to contribute and make a difference in that country.
“The deployment hinged significantly on relationships and being able to work across the multi-national military, police, and civilian sectors assisted greatly,” he said.