Fire and Emergency congratulates Royal Honours recipients

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire and Emergency congratulates Royal Honours recipients

Fire and Emergency Board Chair, Rebecca Keoghan, would like to congratulate all Fire and Emergency people announced in the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours list.

“Royal Honours recognise the outstanding contribution these people have made to their community and to Fire and Emergency,” says Rebecca Keoghan.

“These volunteers have gone above and beyond to make their communities safer, stronger and more resilient.”

The recipients are:

  • Makareta Desai (Manaia) – Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community
  • Bishop Ross Bay (Operational Support) – Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community
  • Ian Carter (Hahei) – Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community
  • Karel Witten-Hannah (Karekare) – Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community and education

“This recognition is extremely well deserved, reflecting their dedication and mahi over many years.”

“On behalf of the Board, Fire and Emergency, and Aotearoa, I would like to congratulate and thank our people recognised today.”

Additional information:

Mrs Makareta Mamoa Willow Desai (Manaia) – Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community.

Mrs Makareta Desai initiated the establishment of the Manaia fire force and first response unit in 2002 after requiring assistance from Coromandel Volunteer Fire Brigade for a fire.

Mrs Desai identified perspective recruits and put together a fundraising team of local supporters that same year. This led to the establishment in 2003 of what is now the Manaia-Hauraki Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Mrs Desai was involved in fundraising to build the Manaia Fire Station, which opened in 2013. She oversaw a smoke alarm campaign in 2020 which saw smoke alarms installed in 143 properties over eight days.

She was active with St John Coromandel from 2002 to 2005 and again from 2014 to 2015, when she helped build relationships between the organisation and the Māori community.

Mrs Desai initiated the establishment of Manaia River and Landcare in 2002 to provide ongoing slip prevention and biodiversity restoration to the river. She was a major contributor and secretary from 2003 to 2009 for the organisation and continues to be involved with working bees. She supported a partnership leading to the creation of the Manaia River Restoration project with funding from the Waikato Regional Council.

Mrs Desai was a trustee and secretary of the Wiremu Tekou Trust from 1995 to 2014. Her community service has also included roles as a youth recreational coordinator and Helensville Māori Warden, and volunteering at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Manaia School during the 1980s and 1990s.

Bishop Ross Graham Bay (Auckland) – Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community.

Bishop Ross Bay joined the Auckland Operational Support Unit, the largest volunteer fire brigade in New Zealand, in 1988 and currently holds the rank of Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

Bishop Ross Bay saw the need to recruit and retain new, young volunteers to refresh membership and provide continuity. This led him to introduce a successful observer programme which allows candidates to ‘try out the role’ and attend callouts in a supervised capacity before formally joining. He also shortened pathways for volunteers to learn or become qualified for certain roles, maximising skills and potential.

As brigade training officer, Bishop Ross Bay became the first operational support member in New Zealand to pass the Institution of Fire Engineers’ international examination. He qualified as a Fire and Emergency New Zealand trainer, and has tutored and coached at the National Training Centre in Rotorua and throughout the country.

He was appointed Anglican Bishop of Auckland in 2010. He oversaw the transformation of the old church hall at St Marks, Remuera into a new community centre. Bishop Ross often acts as Brigade Chaplain officiating at memorial services, dedications and funerals.

Bishop Ross Bay was also appointed an Officer of the Order of St John.

Mr Ian Wright Carter (Hahei) – Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Mr Ian Carter has been a member of Hahei Volunteer Fire Brigade since it was established in 1974 and was the Officer in Charge from 1976 to 1982. In 1996, twenty-two years after its establishment, Hahei became a standalone volunteer fire brigade and Ian became the inaugural Chief Fire Officer. He has held the role of Chief Fire officer since then.

Mr Carter was part of a group that lobbied the council for better local fire protection, leading to the acquisition of second-hand fire equipment and the beginning of the Hahei Brigade.

Mr Carter is one of the founding members of the Fire and Emergency Peer Support Group and was a member from the early 1990s until 2021. He has helped establish and maintain an ongoing working partnership between Fire and Emergency, local Surf Lifesaving and St John Ambulance. He was qualified as a lifeguard in his teenage years, and then became a member of the Hot Water Beach Lifeguard Service in the early 1990s. Since then he has remained active as a mentor and member of the committee.

He has been involved in the local body Emergency Management Committee and created a walking track through his farm to Cathedral Cove, providing a link from Whitianga to Hahei for walking tourists and emergency responders.

Mr Karel James Witten-Hannah (Karekare) – Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community and education

Mr Karel Witten-Hannah is a rural firefighter with the Karekare Volunteer Fire Brigade. He has been a member since its establishment in 1984.

Mr Witten-Hannah taught at Massey University in West Auckland for 31 years and has actively volunteered in his community. Mr Witten-Hannah was a member of the Whānau Committee created to advocate for Māori students, which established Te Mahanahana Marae at Massey High School in 1987 and coordinated the School Marae Carving Project with Paremoremo Prison.

He was an outdoor education coordinator for the school from 1977 to 2006, coaching several sports, organising student trips, and supporting Māori and Pacific groups. In the 1970s he was instrumental in establishing the Lone Kauri School in Karekare.

Mr Witten-Hannah has helped run Auckland Council’s Youth Leadership courses and has been a patroller with the Karekare Surf Lifesaving Club since 1985. During this time, he has been club captain and president, helping to grow membership and the maintenance and rebuilding of the club.

He became Karekare’s Volunteer Civil Defence Coordinator in 1984 and since 2020 has co-led the Resilient Karekare Network, which created the Community Resilience Plan. He has been a founding member of the Piha and Karekare St John First Response Unit since 1993.

Mr Witten-Hannah was appointed a Member of the Order of St John in 2015.