2021 HSR of the Year Finalists and Overall Winner

The finalists for the 2021 HSR of the Year Awards and this year's winner.


Natalie has been an HSR for last two years, representing and supporting workers spread across 27 overseas embassies in the Americas and Asia regions in matters relating to health, safety, and wellbeing. As chair of the Wellington H&S Committee, Natalie has assured the committee had appropriate representation, resourcing and organisation. This ensured that they are trusted advocates for workers, providing an essential linkage to health and safety governance within the agency. 

Natalie’s efforts have also supported the H&S Committee to understand the mandate under which they operate, helping them to be more proactive in providing workers with support and being an advocate for change.  

As a result of Natalie’s efforts, the H&S Committee is now high-functioning, well-represented and well-regarded within MFAT. Natalie has also been a member of the MFAT’s Worker Engagement Committee, where she has reviewed and provided feedback and recommendations on future high impact H&S work.

Natalie exemplifies the role of an HSR. Through her efforts, she has helped to create a culture in which the H&S Committee and HSRs are truly the voice of the workers.



Sergeant Ison’s primary role is an aircraft technician in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. In addition to performing his work duties, SGT Ison has exhibited outstanding dedication to his voluntary HSR role in the past 12-18 months.

SGT Ison observed that the three different units working in his hangar at the RNZAF Base where he worked each had separate health and safety processes. He saw an opportunity in front of him to consolidate these into a unified health and safety manual, and with the help of a contractor colleague, he set about doing just this. The process required a considerable amount of work effort including a great deal of collaboration and communication with all parties involved.

SGT Ison’s work resulted in a simplified, consistent and cohesive health and safety manual for the hangar, but it was how he went about this that has been the reason he is being recognised today. SGT Ison was able to break down barriers by using an education approach to engage workers, resulting in a more unified health and safety culture within the hangar.


Susan and Sophie have jointly worked as HSRs for MPI’s Rural Communities and Farming Support (RCFS) directorate since January 2020. The Rural Communities and Farming Support is externally-facing, working with farmers, growers and rural communities to help ensure rural communities can thrive in the face of emerging challenges.

This can mean working under stressful conditions during adverse events such as floods, snow events, and fires. The risk landscape that they have to consider is complex. In their roles, Susan and Sophie worked with the North and South Island teams to develop a health and safety plan.

This plan identified risks, established a functional register, developed comprehensive risk mitigations, clarified roles, identified and delivered training. The judges were impressed with how Susan and Sophie have consistently promoted the importance of health and safety, not just within MPI but also externally with stakeholder partners and teams including Rural Support Trusts and contracted regional agents.

As a result of their efforts, Susan and Sophie have given the Rural Communities and Farming Support team the tools they need to influence health and safety culture across the sector.


Last year Shelley was working as a Senior Research Analyst and was also an HSR and chair of the H&S committee for the Palmerston North Office. With a real passion for mental health and wellbeing, Shelley spearheaded many initiatives across the region such as mental health week, pink shirt day and winter wellness initiatives.

When workers were being impacted by NZ’s Covid-19 response, Shelley was still in her ‘day job’ of Senior Research Analyst, yet she took a strong wellbeing and pastoral care role, leading a range of initiatives that were rolled out not only in her region, but across the entire country.

This success was in no doubt due to Shelley’s passion and energy, but also because she was instrumental in involving others, including senior leaders, right from the start.

Shelley’s incredible work has been recognised in more ways than one, as she has since been seconded to a Senior Wellbeing & Pastoral Care Advisor role, where she lead and supports care initiatives for 2000+ employees and has become the 'go to' person’ for Waka Kotahi.




Andy's journey in health and safety started before he became an HSR. Working as a Team Leader at the Auckland Transport Operations Centre, Andy had a desire to improve wellbeing within the Centre, which operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Andy assisted in leading a trial with Employee Assistance Programme where EAP staff conducted walk arounds at the facility, providing opportunities for staff to talk with trained professionals if they wished. This initiative sparked Andy to volunteer to become an elected HSR and in this role, he has been able to develop the initiative even further.

Most important to note is that the walkarounds have been able to provide a better understanding of the challenges staff deal with and this enables Andy and others to tailor support and solutions to meet those needs.

The judges felt this nomination stood out because of the innovative approach to engaging and understanding wellbeing that has been demonstrated by Andy and Waka Kotahi, adding quality to the wellbeing conversation.


The nomination that was put forward for Ashleigh was substantial, showcasing a vast range of initiatives that she has championed and supported as an HSR. One example is that throughout COVID-19, Ashleigh took charge of supporting her people with subtle messaging which focused on their health and wellbeing designed to keep her team engaged and safe.

She was able to gain real engagement and participation around what people wanted to see in the psychosocial environment. This enabled her to write a report with recommendations that will be considered by the National office Health and Safety Committee for action across the Ministry.

Ashleigh’s nomination also demonstrated how she had taken time to understand the broader aspects of health, safety and wellbeing, including how critical risks such as violence and aggression were managed by the Ministry. She ensures that health and safety is a priority within her work area and has encouraged her team and the Ministry to do more to support positive workplace culture.

Ashleigh’s nomination was endorsed by various senior leaders within the Ministry and from her National union delegate, but also talks about how she has gained the trust and confidence of the workers she represents.