Kirwee’s brigade is full of admiration for their long-serving chief fire officer, who has been honoured by the Queen for 2020

Honoured by Her Majesty

by Andy Bryenton

Among a list of notable New Zealanders on the Queen’s New Year Honours List are three local Selwyn citizens who have excelled in very different areas of endeavour. For the people of Kirwee, it’s a chance to raise a toast in celebration of their local fire chief, who has served on the front lines of public safety since 1974.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand chief executive, Rhys Jones, praised the efforts of David Stuart Jones, alongside five other firefighters who have been honoured in the new year’s accolades from our monarch.

“We are very proud to have such talented and dedicated people put themselves forward to serve both Fire and Emergency New Zealand and their communities,” said Mr Jones.

“The immense amount of work they have undertaken for Fire and Emergency and many other organisations is helping to make their communities stronger, safer and more resilient.”

Kirwee’s chief, who is more often known familiarly by his middle name, Stuart, joined the Cust Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1974 and transferred to the Kirwee Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1979. Stuart was elected station officer of the Kirwee brigade in 1984, became deputy chief fire officer in 1996, and has held the role of chief fire officer since 2000. He has been the driving force behind fundraising events to upgrade or replace equipment, replace operational support vehicles, and for the construction of a tanker shed.

He has mentored and trained a number of firefighters during the years, many of whom have gone on to careers with Fire and Emergency New Zealand. After the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, he was a member of a revolving crew stationed with Kirwee brigade’s tanker at the Christchurch City station to assist other crews in the surrounding area in the weeks following.

Also graced with an award at new year’s was Roger Francis Gilbert of Leeston, who was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to both sports and historical research. Prebbleton’s most famous citizen, rugby coach Steve Hansen, who was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his distinguished career in sports, both on and off the field.