A Tauranga couple who helped restore order and basic services to strife-torn Pacific countries has been honoured in the New Year Honours list.

The city's retired police Area Commander, Murray Lewis was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for a 40-year police career that included postings to the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste (East Timor) and Bougainville.

His wife Jan, who previously worked as a consultant and clinical manager in Tauranga's residential care sector, was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for work in Bougainville.

She joined her husband on his 2008 deployment to Bougainville where, as a volunteer nurse, she quickly immersed herself in promoting health and community education among the islanders.


Inspector Lewis was appointed Tauranga's Area Commander in 1992 after serving as the New Zealand Police's national co-ordinator in charge of recruiting. He also spent 11 years commanding the Tauranga Armed Offenders squad.

In 2006 he was deployed to the Solomon Islands as manager of provincial policing based in Honiara. A year later he commanded the New Zealand police contingent in Timor Leste and relieved as the United Nations' police commander in the capital, Dili. Mr Lewis' overseas postings began after he decided he wanted to do something special during his last years as a policeman.

Mrs Lewis' work in Bougainville as a volunteer nurse for the New Zealand Police from 2008-13 included providing nursing assistance to Volunteer Service Abroad. She also trained the island's police service and auxiliary police in first aid.

She was involved with several women's refuges and education centres, delivering talks on health issues and helping to coordinate workshops and youth leadership camps. She assisted victims of sexual and domestic violence. Mrs Lewis worked with the Hako Women's Collective, facilitating community education courses on women's health issues in villages. She promoted health issues to members of Bougainville's parliament and helped coach the Bougainville Women's Netball team.