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Officer in Command - HMNZS TOROA

Lieutenant Commander Paul Smith VRD, RNZNVR


Lieutenant Commander Paul Smith was born in Christchurch and raised in various Canterbury rural areas before returning to Christchurch in 1981.


He joined the Sea Cadets Corp at TS Steadfast in 1982 and left in 1994 to join the Naval Reserves.


Lieutenant Commander Smith joined HMNZS PEGASUS in August 1994 as an Ordinary Seaman. He was commissioned from the ranks in 1995 as an Ensign in the Executive Branch of the Volunteer Reserve, starting his seaman officer training in HMNZ Ships KAHU, HINAU and KIWI.


In 1999 he was awarded the Grade Three Watchkeepers Certificate then served as Executive Officer in the Inshore Patrol Craft KIWI, MOA and WAKAKURA.


Paul was part of the final Naval Reserve Crew on KIWI, as she was returned to the RNZN service after serving 23 years with the Naval Reserve.


During his time at PEGASUS, Lieutenant Commander Smith has served as the Recruiting Officer, Training Officer and Operations Officer.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in March 2009 and appointed the Executive Officer in March 2010.


On 7 December 2010 he was awarded a Captain Naval Reserves Commendation for the planning, organisation and execution of RESERVEX 2010.


Lieutenant Commander Smith was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration in 2009 and the Defence Service Medal in 2012.


February 2011 saw PEGASUS receive one of her biggest challenges with the Christchurch Earthquakes. Following sorting of his staff at his civilian place of employment, he was on site at PEGASUS within an hour of the major earthquake to assist in the coordination until handing over to his Commanding Officer that evening. He then joined the cordon duties at Lyttelton, while also securing his earthquake damaged house and displaced family.


Lieutenant Commander Smith passed the Joint Junior Staff Course No 76, in March 2012.


In March 2013, Lieutenant Commander Smith took command of PEGASUS following a challenging and rewarding time as the Executive Officer. In November 2015, PEGASUS was awarded the best Navy Reserve Division for 2015.


In civilian life Lieutenant Commander Smith is an Architectural Designer, gaining his Licensed Building Practitioner Qualification in Design’ Level 3, in 2009 and became a member of the Architectural Designers New Zealand (ADNZ) in December 2009.


In May 2015, after 27 years working for a Structural Engineer in the Architectural and Project Management field, he took six months semi retirement. This followed with Exercise SOUTHERN KATIPO 15 as part of EXCON staff, being posted to “Vessels of Interest” for the exercise as referee and part of the disgruntle local fishing fleet, to harass the Task Group.


In January 2016, he commenced work with Calder Stewart Construction as the National Design Manager, on the Commercial Design Builds and tenders the company develops and builds across the country.


On 7 September 2016 he took Command of HMNZS Toroa in Dunedin, splitting his command leadership between the 2 divisions until June 2018. It was a full circle having served his first sea posting on HMNZS Moa the week after returning from Basic Training in 1994, on a patrol down to Stewart Island.


On 16 February 2017, HMNZS Pegasus was called up to assist with Operation Awhina – Port Hills Fires to assist with the night Corden duty. Within 3 hours of making the call out to the ships company, we had 23 of the 25 volunteers required for duty. This was a proud moment as a commanding officer, to have the call answered and then work alongside our NZ Police after most had all completed a full day’s civilian work.


On 22 June 2018, after 5 years in command, he handed command of HMNZS Pegasus over to her new commanding officer. Then posted to HMNZS Toroa on 23 June 18, returning sole command for HMNZS Toroa back to the division.


Away from his civilian and military commitments, Lieutenant Commander Smith owns a 25 acre block on Banks Peninsula with his wife, where they raise cattle, plant native trees and enjoy family life with their son.


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