Colonel Helen Cooper, DSD
Helen was born and grew up in the Manawatū around an extended family. With parents running a small business and two younger siblings her childhood was busy but Palmerston North afforded her many opportunities. She represented Manawatū in age grade Netball and senior Basketball before joining the Army.
She joined the New Zealand Defence Force in 1988, initially serving as a Territorial Force soldier. In January 1990 she transferred to the Regular Force and commenced officer training at the Officer Cadet School, Waiouru, graduating in December of that year.
As a young officer Helen held a number of staff, training and command appointments. As she has moved into more senior NZDF positions she has worked in organisational and output design, strategic HR and was the Commanding Officer of the NZDF Youth Development Unit and Inspector General Army.
Helen was deployed to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre as the Logistic Technical Advisor in 1999, and commanded the Combat Services Support Group with the 6th New Zealand Battalion Group, East Timor in 2002. In 2011 she was deployed to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation as the Chief Military Observer Group Lebanon, the first female to hold a command appointment at this level.
In July 2017 she was promoted to Colonel and appointed as the Assistance Chief of Army Delivery, responsible for the current operations of Army Headquarters. She held the positions of Deputy Chief of Army and President of the International Association of Peace Keeping Training Centres until late 2019.
Colonel Helen Cooper is a graduate of the NZDF Command and Staff College and was awarded the Distinguished Services Decoration in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her contribution to the Army Transformation Programme.