Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Police officers honoured for bravery in face of Cyclone Gabrielle

The New Zealand Police Association, Te Aka Hāpai, today presented five officers with the association’s Bravery Award.

The awards recognise officers who performed their duty above and beyond reasonable expectations in saving lives during Cyclone Gabrielle in Hastings in February this year.

Association President, Chris Cahill says the Bravery Award recognises the highest ideals of policing and it is humbling to see five young officers who put their own lives on the line to save others.

It is also the first time the association has had five awardees at any one ceremony.

“These events are clear examples of how police officers put the lives of others ahead of the risks to themselves and their own whānau and they can be incredibly proud of how they responded to this tragic event,” said Mr Cahill.

“The communities these officers serve can also be very proud of them.”

The awards refer to two separate events during the large Police rescue operation in Hastings during Cyclone Gabrielle on February 14, 2023.

The Bravery Award citation for Constables Patrick Noiseux, Mark Bancroft and Kurtis Maney notes, “all nearly drowned as they worked to get people up into trees as much as possible and hold them there until more help arrived. Helicopters, jetboats and IRBs involved in the mass rescues could not reach them in the raging water.”

“It was evident to all that if Patrick, Mark and Kurtis had not acted as they did – without hesitation or concern for their own safety – the six civilians could very well have perished in the rapidly rising water.”

The Bravery Award citation for Detective Sergeant Heath Jones and Detective Constable Jaime Stewart notes that their first challenge was to reach a local detective and her 4-year-old and 8-month-old, who were trapped on their shed roof with water rising quickly. Ironically, the detective’s husband was on duty elsewhere rescuing others and unable to come to his family’s aid.

Heath and Jaime then went to the rescue of an exhausted elderly couple trying to walk in fast-flowing and ever-rising water.

“Debris and dead sheep were floating past as they battled to get the couple over a stop bank. It was obvious that for them to survive, the officers would have to swim them to safety to avoid being trapped,” the award citation states.

This required going under water to ensure each of the couple were able to keep their heads above water.

Former Governor General Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand presented the awards at the association’s 88th annual conference in Wellington.

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