Lake Wanaka
Image: Stefan Marks | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC Director-General Lou Sanson has welcomed the honouring of Senior Ranger Paul Hondelink and Pilot Nick Wallis with a public service award.

Date:  10 May 2019

Both men and DOC ranger Scott Theobald were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Wanaka last October.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes yesterday presented the Hondelink and Wallis families with a Commendation for Frontline Excellence Award. It recognised the huge contribution both men had made to New Zealand with their conservation and predator control work.

The Commendation is awarded to people who: 

  • demonstrate exceptional care and commitment to New Zealanders, and a ‘higher purpose' motivation 
  • demonstrate the highest standard of integrity, kaitiakitanga, and the right attitude 
  • generate pride in the Public Sector.

Paul Hondelink was DOC’s foremost professional chamois and tahr hunter with 47 years of professional experience organising large scale predator control operations in the South Island. He was also highly respected for his search and rescue and fire control work in the Wanaka region.

Wanaka Pilot Nick Wallis was also a member of the DOC whanau, recognised as one of New Zealand’s most skilled helicopter operators for wild animal control with a passion for conservation and the Southern Alps.

Last November, Scott Theobald was awarded the State Services Commissioner’s Commendation for Frontline Excellence.

Scott Theobald was a pioneer in developing the conservation dog programme which plays a pivotal role today in New Zealand’s predator control work.

“It was a privilege to be able to spend time with the three families in a special memorial service yesterday where we remembered and honoured these three amazing men and their legacies,” said Lou Sanson.


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