Maritime NZ’s work is important for safe, secure and clean seas and waterways
Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 51, December 2016
A long career in the Navy provided useful experiences that David says he drew on as the Chair of New Zealand’s maritime regulatory and response agency.
He says it has been privilege to work for both the Navy and Maritime NZ. David spent 42 years as a Naval officer - including stints as Commander of the frigate Waikato, and five years as the Chief of the Navy.
After retiring in 2009, he enjoyed being able to make a contribution to Maritime NZ. “Maritime NZ has a broad range of responsibilities and it is only a relatively small organisation,” he says. “Its staff of under 200 number only marginally more than the crew of an Anzac frigate, yet Maritime NZ has a very important and complex challenge to ensure that the national maritime system operates in the best way possible for New Zealanders.”
Maritime NZ’s responsibilities range from regulation and compliance, to search and rescue coordination, to education for recreational boaties, and responses to maritime incidents - such as the MV Rena grounding off Tauranga in 2011.
David says the MV Rena was a good example of the requirement for Maritime NZ to move from business-as- usual to responding quickly to a very complex incident - and of the organisation’s ability to do that.
“We managed the response in a pretty effective way, while also adapting our approach in the early stages to ensure we were even more professional and effective - particularly in engaging with Bay of Plenty communities.
“Nevertheless, afterward we were committed to extracting every lesson we could from the response, to capitalise on that experience for the benefit of any future incident.”
David says the introduction of MOSS two years ago, to provide an improved maritime operator safety system, and the new seafarer certification framework SeaCert, have been extremely important from the safety perspective and in terms of the opportunities they provided to engage closely with industry.
“Maritime NZ’s relationship with the industry was quite robust in the early stages of introducing these systems. However, we have remained determined to demonstrate to industry that we understand that effective engagement between us is vital to Maritime NZ’s success - and that we do not consider ourselves immune from criticism, although we would prefer it to be constructive.”
David says there seems to be a fairly widespread lack of awareness of the vital importance of the sea to the security and social well-being of New Zealanders - and of the contribution made by our maritime sector to New Zealand’s economy.
“Too often the work of maritime operators and seafarers goes unrecognised or is under-valued,” says David.
Reflecting on his time with Maritime NZ, he counts himself “fortunate to have been involved with worthy people working on the worthy cause of ensuring safe, secure and clean seas and waterways for all of those who go out upon them for work or for pleasure”.