Armourguard team recognised as NZ’s best security guards for 2023

3 min read
Armourguard team wins NZ's best security guard award

Lei Vaa and Shelley Herbert – winners of the Security Officer of the Year category at the NZ Security Association’s 2023 awards

NZ’s best security guards recognised in national awards

Two of our Auckland security team, Shelley Herbert and Lei Vaa were recently recognised as NZ’s best security guards for 2023, winning the Security Officer of the Year category at this year’s NZ Security Association awards.

The accolade was awarded in recognition of their outstanding teamwork and skill in saving a woman’s life late last year.

They were on duty at an Auckland transport interchange one afternoon when they encountered a woman who was extremely upset about a relationship breakup. The woman tried to get onto an upper bridge so she could jump but Shelley and Lei pulled her back.

After calming down, the woman reassured Shelley and Lei that she was ok before leaving the station. They don’t know how she is doing now but are relieved to have been able to save her life that day.

For Lei, that was one of three lives she saved at the station last year.

It was her first year of being a security guard, so successfully dealing with three life or death situations in such a short time shows that Lei is clearly very talented.

She admits to getting emotional after each event after she has had time to stop and think about what happened.

“At the same time, I feel so good inside myself at having saved that person’s life,” she says.

Lei has a church leadership background that involves helping women with their physical, spiritual and other needs. She says that experience helped give her good gut instincts to know when someone at the train station is thinking about harming themselves, and then to talk with them and help keep them safe. 

As is the case with Lei, Shelley has also saved lives before but found this one the hardest.

More than seven years as an Armourguard security guard has given Shelley a sense of the signs that someone may want to harm themselves: “I’m quite talkative so I know that something isn’t quite right so I go and have a chat and assess them and keep an eye.”

However, she was surprised by the woman’s determination.

“I’m a big woman but she was so strong that it was hard to pull her back to safety while also being on the phone to the Police at the same time. It was quite intense to the point where I had no choice but to put my leg up and force her to pull back. I only managed to do it because of the adrenaline pumping through me,” says Shelley, who was helped by having Lei there to assist.

During the drama, Shelley had the presence of mind to say a lot of reassuring things to the woman and encourage her not to go through with it.

“It was a really difficult situation, but it ended up well. All of the learning that Armourguard has put me through – training, toolbox talks, seminars, etc. – all came into play that day and helped me to get a good outcome.”

We are very proud of Lei and Shelley’s amazing efforts that resulted in saving the young woman’s life. Being judged NZ’s best security guards is the icing on the cake!

well done also to our other award nominees

Congratulations also to our other NZ Security Awards nominees. You’re all heroes and heroines to us!

Finalist for Patrol Officer of the Year: Melvin Hallegado

Security Supervisor/Operations Manager of the Year: Pierre Rudman, Ella McDonald, Chris Gray, Ursula Tamiano

Security Administrator of the Year: Amanda Riley, Steffanee Valentine, Tyler Dungy, Patricia Warmington

Customer Champion of the Year: Rebecca Magee

Security Officer of the Year: Sue and Donald Urquhart, Neil Tomuli and Pule Talia, Hawkes Bay branch team, Chris Pugmire and Ryan Purcell, Josiah Sturley, Lisa Filipo, Stu Kete, Peter (Jim) Findlater

Specialised Security Services Professional of the Year: Dylan Hood

Save a Life: Thomas Tofilau

This is a very well deserved win for Lei and Shelley. A big congratulations to you both.

– Warwick Stenson, North Island Metro Manager, Armourguard