Narelle Silwood, DTA Operations Analyst, was awarded the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Civilian of the Year Award 2018 for dedication and passion for her work in support of the ANZAC Frigate Systems Upgrade (FSU) programme.

She finds it hard to describe the pride she feels on being chosen for this award, particularly as it came about through the recommendation of Command on the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) FSU Mission Support Capability project. “The leadership, support and direction they provided the entire team sums up the elements which I have found to be paramount to the realisation of a successful outcome on military projects and to the well-being of our people.” 




Narelle Silwood with her NZDF Civilian of the Year Award




Narelle helped support the RNZN in developing its Mission Support Capability for the FSU programme. The new systems in the ANZAC frigates HMNZS TE MANA and TE KAHA are extremely complex. For these ships to achieve their full operational potential a significant amount of automation was required to be programmed into the Combat Management System. DTA was tasked to help with the mapping process and Narelle was selected to lead this initiative.

Having excellent interpersonal and communications skills were key to Narelle engaging successfully with stakeholders across all levels. She drew on their vast range of knowledge and understanding of the systems and then mapped it all out into easily digestible charts. The first set of real-world system files were delivered to the contractor Lockheed Martin Canada in September 2018, which far exceeded their expectations of what could be produced in such a short time.

This achievement is a direct result of Narelle’s hard work and passion. Her dedication to her role at DTA and in the wider NZDF, and a belief that anything is possible, is why she has been recognised as the New Zealand Defence Force Civilian of the Year 2018.

She is quick to add that it’s the calibre of people she has worked with, across all three services, which has made this work so very special for her. “Hardworking, intelligent, fun and dedicated to a safe and secure future for New Zealand.”

Being privileged to work for my country’s Defence Force these past 13 years has been the most rewarding experience of my working life.


She was given two great opportunities as a result of the Civilian of the Year Award. The first was a week at sea onboard HMNZS OTAGO observing training and preparation for boarding operations off the South Island. She says it was a fantastic week, she learnt a lot, and it was applicable to the type of work she does.

The second amazing opportunity was, at the direction of the Chief of Defence Force, to support this year’s Australian and New Zealand commemorative activities in Gallipoli.

As a member of the NZDF Gallipoli 2019 contingent, she visited and participated in remembrance services at all New Zealand war graves and memorials on the Gallipoli Peninsula, as well as those of Britain, France and Turkey. Additional duties included conducting security duties and welcoming all Australian and New Zealand visitors to the ANZAC Day service on 25 April.

Narelle was also greatly honoured to wear the Nga Tapuwae kahu huruhuru (Māori feather cloak) and recited The Ode on English at the Chanak Consular Cemetery remembrance service in Çanakkale.

I am a VERY fortunate person. I love my job, and this has really been the icing on the cake.


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