2014 Anzac of Year Announced
RSA National President Don McIver, The Governor General, Lt Gen, The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Anzac of the Year recipient Banapa Avatea
The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae presented the Anzac of the Year Award to Mr Banapa Avatea at a function at Government House.
The Governor-General’s ANZAC of the Year Award, in association with the RSA, was established to recognise the spirit of ANZAC evident in New Zealanders today. The recipient must have demonstrated extraordinary comradeship, compassion, courage and commitment.
Mr Banapa Avatea received the award for his prompt actions which prevented a major accident on State Highway One on 14 February 2014. At great personal risk, he jumped aboard and took control of a moving truck after the driver became unconscious, thereby saving the driver’s life and the lives of others on the road.
The recipient of this year’s award was chosen by a panel of judges chaired by the Governor-General.
Citation for 2014 Governor General's Anzac of the Year
On 14 February 2014, Mr Banapa Avatea prevented a potentially fatal accident by jumping into and controlling a moving 29-tonne truck after the driver had passed out at the wheel.
While making his daily commute to work on State Highway 1 between Auckland and Hamilton, Mr Avatea noticed that the truck in front of him was veering to the right and hitting road barriers.
Realising that something was very wrong, Mr Avatea accelerated and came up beside the truck to see the driver hunched over the wheel unconscious.
Mr Avatea called 111, turned on his hazard and head lights and drove in the middle of the two southbound lanes in peak-traffic to prevent other cars passing.
As the truck neared Rangiriri, it crashed hard into a barrier and slowed. Mr Avatea got out of his car, and assisted by another motorist, was able to open the door of the truck. The motorist was able to apply his hand to the foot brake while Mr Avatea jumped in, took control and was finally able to bring the truck to a stop.
Using his first aid training, Mr Avatea quickly established that the driver was diabetic and stabilised him before the paramedics arrived. Mr Avatea then continued on his way to work.
The Waikato District road policing authority remarked that Mr Avatea’s courage and quick thinking had prevented a serious tragedy.
While this act alone deserves accolades, Mr Avatea has also demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the Anzac values of courage, comradeship, compassion and commitment in his everyday life. As Principal of Huntly West School and a passionate educator, Mr Avatea strives to instil these values in his students. He confirms that the spirit embodied in the Anzac tradition is truly alive in New Zealand today.