Kerry Tutty

For over three decades Lieutenant Commander Kerry Tutty has served her country as a driven and dedicated member of our Defence Force. She is a highly-respected leader within the Royal New Zealand Navy, a top athlete, and a volunteer coach, who is focused on drawing people together and getting the best from them.

Lieutenant Commander Kerry Tutty is a highly-respected leader within the Royal New Zealand Navy, renowned for her drive and compassion, her ability to connect with others, and her strong advocacy of diversity and inclusiveness.

Enthusiastic and with a contagious energy, Kerry has an outstanding ability to work with and get the best out of young people across all ranks. She is also a national representative athlete, a volunteer sports coach, and at the forefront of ensuring there are no barriers to women succeeding in the Navy. Kerry has served New Zealand as a member of the Defence Force for over three decades. She has seen operational service in Iraq, Kosovo and Timor-Leste, and contributed to humanitarian missions across the Pacific. Since early 2016, Kerry has been the Executive Officer of HMNZS PHILOMEL, the Navy’s operational base in Devonport, Auckland. Kerry’s role is fundamental to overseeing the safety and security of the naval base.

During the RNZN’s 75th anniversary celebrations in 2016, Kerry and her team ensured the safety and security of visiting ships from 12 different nations involved in the International Naval Review. But when the Kaikoura earthquake struck, and a fleet of warships diverted south to assist with the emergency response, Kerry’s team worked tirelessly to collaborate with Operation Neptune and deliver the change in plans.

A humble leader, with a people focus, Kerry draws together and manages the demands of 20 organisations operating on the base. Underpinning her responsibility is the need to maintain the culture, ethos and values of the military personnel who work there. She is highly regarded for being able to “double or triple hat” – to hold down several jobs or roles. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to act decisively under pressure.

Kerry believes great leaders lead without ego, give recognition where it is due, and champion their team. She takes time to introduce high-performing junior sailors to senior leaders and managers as recognition of their achievements. She also has a talent for breaking down complex and strategic information so people understand what it means for them.

After attending St Kevin’s College in Oamaru, Kerry entered the Defence Force as a paramedic, and studied to become a nurse, specialising in peri-operative care. After commissioning as an officer, she spent time at the Leadership Development group, training new recruits. Returning to her health specialisation, she was Deputy Director of Naval Health for seven years. She has served on a number of humanitarian missions overseas, including Pacific tsunami events, where medic and nursing skills are in high demand.Kerry also participated in an international study tour to South Africa in 2000, meeting with President Nelson Mandela.

With her health background, she also puts her hand up to lead activities like wellness and mental health events, diversity strategies, and the mentoring and coaching of young leaders. A two-month humanitarian mission at a refugee camp in Kosovo in 1999 had a profound influence on Kerry’s view of community. Witnessing atrocities and displaced people generated a strong desire in Kerry to do “something meaningful”, and drove her to volunteer her time to initiatives inside and out of the Defence Force.

Passionate about sport, Kerry plays, manages and coaches netball and touch teams both within the Navy, the New Zealand Defence Force and the community. She leads by example – playing and captaining touch national representative sides and competing at international masters’ level. She is respected for her ability to see talent beyond the traditional view, and coaches a tight-knit youth touch team in the North Harbour competition.

Kerry has led discussions around the inclusion of adaptive athletes in sports within the Defence Force, and has initiated an award in the Navy’s sporting community to recognise the achievements of athletes who overcome adversity to take great strides in their sporting endeavours.

She is involved in fundraising campaigns for hospice, cancer and disaster relief support initiatives, and volunteers in community conservation projects.

Kerry strongly believes in diversity in leadership. She took a key leadership role establishing the RNZN Women’s Steering Group in 2014, the voice for navigating the future success of women in the Navy, and serves as its vice chair.

Her leadership ability has been recognised at the highest level within the service, and she is currently attending the Defence Force’s Command and Staff College to complete a Masters of Defence and Strategic Studies.