Police praise New Zealand Bravery Honours recipients

Police praise New Zealand Bravery Honours recipients

National News


New Zealand Police welcome today’s announcement that 17 people, including eight police officers or former officers, are recipients of the country’s highest awards for bravery.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said he is delighted to see the extraordinary courage of so many people honoured at Royal level.

“The courageous and selfless acts of these men and women, young and old, who risked their lives to save people and in many cases prevent further violence from happening was just outstanding,” Commissioner Marshall said.

“They acted without hesitation knowing that people had been shot and injured, others kidnapped, stabbed or trapped in burning vehicles.  Their motivation in helping rescue those whose lives were endangered is inspirational and they fully deserve the gratitude of all New Zealanders.

 “Many recipients are humbled by the award and wonder why they have been singled out for special recognition, thinking that they were simply doing their job, responding as good neighbours, or as people do when they see others including strangers, at risk.  One officer modestly declined an award for these reasons.

“Whether you’re trained to deal with the unexpected, danger or violence or purely acted out of instinct, the bottom line is that each and every one of the recipients put their lives on the line to help save someone else.”

There are four levels of New Zealand bravery honours.  They are the New Zealand Cross for acts of great bravery in situations of extreme danger; the New Zealand Bravery Star for acts of outstanding bravery in situations of danger; the New Zealand Bravery Decoration for acts of exceptional bravery in situations of danger and the New Zealand Bravery Medal for acts of bravery.

Police officers have been awarded honours for their bravery in two high profile firearms incidents.  These were:

  • the 2009 shooting on 22 December 2009 in Papatoetoe when a gunman shot and injured Constable Jeremy Snow four times,
  • the 13 July 2010 incident in Buccleugh Street, Philipstown, Christchurch when an armed offender shot and injured Senior Constable Bruce Lamb in the face, fatally shot his police dog Gage and shot and injured Constable Mitch Alatalo in the leg.

Sergeant Michael Wardle, Nelson Police, NZ Bravery Decoration:

On 13 July 2010, during the course of a search and arrest at a house in Phillipstown, Christchurch, an armed offender shot and injured Senior Constable Bruce Lamb in the face, fatally shot his police dog Gage and shot and injured Constable Mitch Alatalo.

One Constable dragged Senior Constable Lamb by his belt down the hallway and out of immediate danger as Constable Alatalo escaped through a window.  Sergeant Wardle, who was then a Constable, fired his taser at the offender who attempted to shoot him.  The rifle jammed. The offender followed the officers and again aimed his rifle at Sergeant Wardle who stood his ground and maintained a position between him and the other officers giving them time to get to safety.

Detective Gregory Cater, Counties Manukau Police; Constable James Collins, Counties Manukau Police; Detective Constable Edward Michael Luxford (now resigned and living in Australia); Constable Johan Mulder, Counties Manukau Police; Constable Liam Pham (now resigned and living in Australia); Constable Andrew Warne, Counties Manukau and Sergeant Chris Turnbull, Taupo Police (formerly a Constable in Counties Manukau) – all receive the New Zealand Bravery Medal.

Shortly before 4am on 22 December 2009, Constable Jeremy Snow suffered life threatening injuries when he was shot while on patrol with a colleague in Papatoetoe.  The officers had stopped to check out a suspicious looking vehicle in a driveway and when Constable Snow approached the car he was shot, collapsing in the property’s yard.

The alarm was raised and police responded in numbers to the scene.  An immediate action team of experienced officers was formed, led by Sergeant Turnbull.  It included Detective Cater, Constable Collins, Detective Constable Luxford and Constables Mulder, Pham and Warne.

They rapidly approached in two vehicles, positioning them for cover, and then advanced up the driveway on foot to find the seriously injured Constable Snow.  Bleeding profusely and with a fractured leg, Constable Snow needed to be evacuated quickly, but it was not immediately known where the gunman had gone.

Constables Collins, Pham and Warne and Detective Constable Luxford carried their wounded colleague 103m to a patrol car and then drove at speed to an ambulance waiting on the street.

Sergeant Turnbull, Constable Mulder and Detective Cater stayed at the property to provide cover while Constable Snow was extricated.  The trio stayed observing the property until they were relieved by other officers.

The situation was made more dangerous by the fact that the number and location of offenders was unknown.  The gunman was found a short time later by other police.

Commissioner Marshall also acknowledged the courage of members of the public honoured with bravery awards. 

These included Ms Georgina Langford, her mother Mrs Jan Boyd and stepfather Mr John Boyd who confronted an agitated gunman who shot another family member at a rural address near Nelson on 21 April 2011.

Two other Christchurch incidents also resulted in bravery honours.  Elderly Mrs Lois Kennedy heard her neighbour calling for help early in the morning of 21 January 2011.  She knew that her neighbour’s middle-aged son was staying with his mother and that his deteriorating mental state had reached the point where Mrs Kennedy was afraid of him.

Although it was dark, the visually impaired Mrs Kennedy picked up a hearth brush, went outside without the use of her walking frame and approached what she thought was a bundle in the garden.  Feeling her way and following the cries for help, she came in contact with the man crouched over his mother and attacking her with a blunt samurai sword.

Responding to the feel of the blade Mrs Kennedy swung the hearth brush at the man, connecting several times.  The man kicked at her and, unable to physically stop the attack, Mrs Kennedy returned to her unit and called police for help.

Her neighbour suffered bites, bruising and cuts and Mrs Kennedy’s hand was injured.

On 15 March 2012, construction worker Mr Jade Lynn was on his way to work in Christchurch when he saw a man standing in the middle of the road waving two large knives and threatening members of the public.  The man was trying to get into cars and attempted to stab a cyclist.  He had already kidnapped two people and had stabbed them both with blood visible on the knives.

Mr Lynn got out of his truck and tried to reason with the man who threatened to kill him and swung at him with one of the knives.  He started to walk towards Mr Lynn who fearing for his life, took a steel pinch bar from his truck and confronted the man in an effort to protect other members of the public.  During this time he yelled at passers-by to stay away and lock their doors while he continued to engage the man’s attention and distract him until police arrived.

Two Amberley, North Canterbury, men Mark Allen and Ken Reilly climbed into a crashed and burning car to pull free a trapped and injured driver, moments before the front of the car was engulfed in flames.  The men had stopped to help the victims of a two car crash on SH 1 in North Canterbury on 2 May 2011.

A crash between a car and light truck near Hastings on 16 October 2010 resulted in Hastings man Colin Wiggins and Wellingtonian Martin Kay stopping their cars and run to save victims.

The truck had tipped onto its side on the road with its 75-year-old driver trapped inside.  The car ended up into a ditch with its 17-year-old driver trapped.  Both vehicles erupted into flames sending a thick plume of black smoke into the air.

Mr Kay and Mr Wiggins dragged the car driver free, and ran to the truck but couldn’t see the driver because of the smoke.  Mr Kay used a hammer to try and smash the windscreen but was blown back by smoke.  Mr Wiggins completed smashing out the windscreen and felt around the truck to find the driver. Both dragged the driver to safety before the truck was completely engulfed in flames.