Honours presented for crash victims

Nick Wallis
Nick Wallis
Two people killed in a Wanaka Helicopter crash have been posthumously given public service awards.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes on Thursday presented the families of Department of Conservation (Doc) ranger Paul Hondelink and helicopter pilot Nick Wallis with Commendation for Frontline Excellence Awards.

Doc ranger Scott Theobald was presented with the same award in November.

The three were killed after their helicopter crashed shortly after take-off from Wanaka Airport last October.

The award is given to people who "demonstrate exceptional care and commitment to New Zealanders, and . . . generate pride in the public sector".

Paul Hondelink
Paul Hondelink
Doc director-general Lou Sanson said Mr Hondelink was the department'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."

Mr Wallis was also a member of the Doc family and was recognised as one of New Zealand's most skilled helicopter operators for wild animal control with a passion for conservation and the Southern Alps, he said.

Mr Theobald was a pioneer in developing the conservation dog programme which now played a pivotal role 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" where the legacies of the men were remembered, he said.

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