Pair killed in Wanaka heli crash given public service awards

The three men who died in the helicopter crash near Wanaka Airport (from left) Nick Wallis, Paul...
The three men who died in the helicopter crash near Wanaka Airport (from left) Nick Wallis, Paul Hondelink and Scott Theobold. Photo: supplied
Two people killed in a Wanaka helicopter crash have been posthumously given public service awards.

Yesterday State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes 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 the same award last year.

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

The award is given to people who "demonstrate exceptional care and commitment to New Zealanders, and a 'higher purpose' motivation, show the highest standard of integrity, kaitiakitanga, and the right attitude and generate pride in the public sector".

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 whanau 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.

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

"It was 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.'' 

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