2 Apr 2011

Bravery awards announced in special honours list

1:45 pm on 2 April 2011

People hailed as heroes in a number of high profile tragic events have been honoured for their bravery in a Special Honours List.

Those involved in the Napier siege and the Elim College canyoning accident, as well as a man who was killed when he went to help a stranger, are among 31 people recognised.

Napier list

Among those honoured for bravery in Napier are 10 police officers, a paramedic and three civilians.

Jan Molenaar also wounded two other officers and a neighbour, before shooting himself after a two-day siege.

Four police officers have been awarded the Bravery Star, the second highest honour for bravery, three more will receive the Bravery Decoration and another three will receive the Bravery Medal.

Those awarded the Bravery Star, are: Constable Michael Burne, Senior Constable Dennis Hurworth, Detective Sergeant Timothy Smith and Senior Constable Paul Symonds.

The Bravery Decoration has been awarded to Sergeant Heath Jones, Senior Sergeant Anthony Miller and Constable Kevin Rooney.

The Bravery Medal is awarded to Detective Paul Buckley, Senior Constable Bradley Clark and Detective Sergeant Nicholas John Clere.

The officers include the first Armed Offenders Squad members at the scene.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle says the officers are reluctant to be singled out for praise, but feel honoured and humbled.

Also honoured

Leonard Holmwood was visiting Molenaar when the incident took place.

He has been awarded the Bravery Star for trying to take the rifle from Molenaar, preventing him from firing more shots, and giving the wounded officers time to find cover.

Garry Fraser was driving to meet a friend when he stopped to help one of the hurt officers and called 111.

He has been awarded the Bravery Medal.

Mr Fraser says his actions were not about being a hero and he was simply reacting to a situation, which he says many New Zealanders would have done many times over in the last few months.

Christine Jackman has also been awarded the Bravery Medal. She assisted in the removal of the wounded officers.

Her citation says they received vital medical attention much sooner than might otherwise have been the case.

St John paramedic Stephen Smith accompanied the evacuation party.

The citation for his Bravery Medal says it was not a requirement of his job to put himself in harm's way.

He acted bravely by doing so and ensured that urgently needed medical attention was made available to a seriously wounded police officer at the earliest possible moment.

Canyon tragedy

Murray Burton, the principal of Elim Christian College in Auckland, has been appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit for leading his school through the aftermath of the 2008 canyoning tragedy, which killed six pupils and a teacher.

Tony McClean and his pupil, Anthony Mulder, who both died trying to save other pupils as a flash flood swept through the Mangatepopo Stream, have been awarded Bravery Stars.

Both were strong swimmers, and by being paired up with those not as confident in the water, their chances of survival were reduced.

Mr McClean's mother, Jeanette McClean, says she is very proud of her son's actions.

She says he was the last to leave the ledge the group was trapped on. A pupil with mild cerebral palsy was strapped to his back, but neither survived.

Mr Burton says the awards will help the school remember the tragedy.

He says it was a privilege to guide the school through an extraordinary time of grief and he saw it as doing his job.

CBD murder

Austin Hemmings, who was murdered going to the aid of a woman being attacked in downtown Auckland in September 2008, has also been posthumously honoured.

He has been awarded the Bravery Star.

The citation says Mr Hemmings, 44, could have left the scene, but he deliberately put himself in danger and continued to protect the woman.

This decision, it says, ultimately cost him his life. Mr Hemmings was stabbed to death.

Craig Hemming says his brother did the right thing and is a true hero.

He says the award helps ease the pain of his death and the family is extremely proud of him.

His killer has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 16 years.

Incidents at sea

Also awarded a Bravery Medal was Chief Petty Officer Mark Taylor of HMNZS Canterbury who unsuccessfully attempted to rescue a sailor trapped in an upturned inflatable boat during a training exercise at sea en route from Cape Reinga to Auckland in October 2007.

The citation says he persisted in his efforts to the point of exhaustion and where his own life could have been at risk.

Honorary Bravery Awards have been made to Maurice Ugo Conti and Sophie Conti of California who rescued the crew of an Australian boat, the Timella, that struck a reef south of Vita Levu in October 2008.

The citation says that if it had not been for their courage, determination and superb seamanship, the crew of the Timella would probably have been lost.

The Contis also had to consider the safety of their two young children who were aboard their boat, the Ocealys.

Bravery medals, which are awarded occasionally, were last given out in 2008.