New Zealand Bravery Awards 2016: Courage beyond the call of duty

Eleven New Zealanders have today been honoured for their bravery. In a special honours list, three have been awarded the New Zealand Bravery Decoration for exceptional acts in situations of danger, and eight have been awarded the New Zealand Bravery Medal. The awards recognise the actions of those who have saved or attempted to save the life of another person and in doing so put their own life or safety at risk. They are awarded by the Queen and the Governor-General
Chris Foot confronted an armed man who shot and killed his own children, before turning the gun on himself. Photo / Gregor Richardson
Chris Foot confronted an armed man who shot and killed his own children, before turning the gun on himself. Photo / Gregor Richardson

The New Zealand Bravery Decoration

CHRIS FOOT

Not a day passes that Chris Foot doesn't think about the tragic deaths of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone.

Mr Foot's actions on January 15, 2014 - the night of the children's deaths - have led to him being awarded the New Zealand Bravery Decoration.

Bradley (9) and Ellen (6) were killed in their beds by their father Edward Livingstone in the St Leonards home they shared with their mother, Livingstone's estranged wife, Katharine Webb.

Livingstone burst into the Kiwi St house shortly before 10pm armed with a Stoeger shotgun and carrying a plastic container of petrol. Ms Webb fled the house to get help and ran to the neighbouring house, the home of Mr Foot and his wife Mel.

Barefoot, unarmed and aware Livingstone had a gun, Mr Foot ran next door in hope of talking down the man he once called a friend and saving the children's lives.

"I was just doing what I had to do," Mr Foot said.

He confronted Livingstone and tried to reason with him. What he didn't know was it was already too late to save the children.

Without warning, Livingstone - who had kept the shotgun trained on Mr Foot - pulled the trigger and fired a shot. Livingstone stumbled simultaneously and the blast peppered the top frame of the front door.

He found Livingstone lying on the bed in the main bedroom, dead from a single gunshot wound.

He then discovered the bodies of the two children. "It's something that will never go away," he said.

SENIOR CONSTABLE BLAIR SPALDING AND CONSTABLE BEN TURNER

Blair Spalding. Photo / Supplied
Blair Spalding. Photo / Supplied

They say they were just doing their jobs. But Senior Constable Blair Spalding and Constable Ben Turner went beyond the call of duty when chasing a known violent criminal and hard drug user who had a loaded sawn-off shotgun.

The Hamilton police officers were alerted to a stolen van being driven by the offender on August 25, 2014.

Spalding, then a constable, chased the van on a busy road, and attempted to pass to warn traffic ahead. The van swerved into oncoming traffic to prevent Spalding from overtaking.

Knowing the offender's propensity to carry guns, Spalding deemed it an unacceptable risk to allow the van into the central city and he pushed it off the road.

It crashed into a car while entering a supermarket carpark and the offender took off on foot, carrying the weapon.

Ben Turner. Photo / Supplied
Ben Turner. Photo / Supplied

By then, Turner had arrived and both officers saw the man attempt to carjack an elderly woman at gunpoint.

Fearing for the woman's safety, Turner dragged the man away from her car.

Seeing the shotgun in his right hand, Turner swung the offender around by his left arm to keep him moving and off balance. A sprinting Spalding arrived and grabbed the offender's other arm.

During the struggle, both barrels of the shotgun went off and Spalding suffered multiple puncture wounds to his left foot and leg.

"It was a team effort and I would do it again in a heartbeat," Spalding said.

The New Zealand Bravery Medal

DR CHRIS HENRY, DR DAVID RICHARDS, AND ST JOHN PARAMEDIC JAMES WATKINS

Chris Henry. Photo / Supplied
Chris Henry. Photo / Supplied

In smoke, noise, dust and chaos, a band of strangers burrowed into the twisted steel and crushed concrete for survivors.

Firefighters had cleared a crude, narrow tunnel into the rubble of the Canterbury Television building which had pancaked in the magnitude-6.3 earthquake of February 22, 2011.

They knew there were language school students trapped inside. A fire raged somewhere below.

David Richards. Photo / Supplied
David Richards. Photo / Supplied

Dr Chris Henry, Dr David Richards and St John paramedic James Watkins found themselves on the scene.

All three men crawled on their bellies, head to toe in single file, deep into the tunnel to give assurance, pain relief and medical assistance to the trapped survivors.

When violent aftershocks rumbled, the trio of rescuers were pulled out by their ankles.

James Watkins. Photo / Supplied
James Watkins. Photo / Supplied

They managed to get two students out alive.

"It was an amazing team response on the hoof and it was a really life-changing experience for a lot of people involved," said Kaikoura GP Henry, who made 20 trips in and out of the tunnel over many hours.

CARL JENNINGS

Carl Jennings. Photo / Supplied
Carl Jennings. Photo / Supplied

A split-second decision to rush inside a burning Orakei building to save a woman's life still haunts Carl Jennings.

He'd just moved to Auckland for a new job as head of athletic development at the Vodafone Warriors.

On November 23, 2012, Jennings heard an explosion.

His neighbour had used accelerant to set herself alight and soon her house was engulfed.

"My wife Sharon was screaming at me not to go in," Jennings recalled. "The split-second decision to continue to go into the flames has haunted me ever since, not due to the fear of risking my life for someone else, but more a feeling of guilt of potentially leaving my wife and children without a husband and father to support them."

He dragged the woman to safety, went outside for air, and returned with two other neighbours.

They carried the badly burned victim outside and provided aid until emergency services arrived.

GEORGE PUTURANGI PAEKAU

As George Puturangi Paekau arrived at his Hamilton home on November 9, 2014, he saw his cousin's place next door engulfed in flames.

Hearing a child's voice inside a bedroom filled with thick smoke, Paekau smashed a window with a length of pipe and saw two children inside.

He leaned inside the broken window to grab one boy and pass him out to other members of the public.

Paekau then covered his face with a T-shirt, jumped inside, and shut the bedroom door, helping to slow the fire's spread.

Four other men then rushed inside and helped Paekau lift the older youth through the window, before they also got to safety.

The Fire Service arrived and found the mother with serious injuries. A 3-year-old tragically died at the scene.

"Mr Paekau's selfless actions and his initiative in closing the bedroom door to slow the spread of the fire allowed the men time to rescue the older youth," his citation says.

CONSTABLE DEANE O'CONNOR

Constable Deane O'Connor. Photo / George Novak
Constable Deane O'Connor. Photo / George Novak

Constable Deane O'Connor didn't hesitate to strip to his underwear and jump into the icy mid-winter waters of Tauranga Harbour to save a man.

Shortly after 6pm on August 12, 2013, a car crashed into an oncoming van on Maungatapu Causeway Bridge, sending it 5m below into the harbour.

The van sank rapidly with both occupants inside.

The driver, Greg Woledge, was trapped and did not survive.

Passenger Ashley Donkersley managed to get out and was floundering in the water, an incoming tidal flow sweeping him further into the harbour.

First on the scene, O'Connor stripped to his underwear and swam out approximately 150m to a distressed Donkersley.

O'Connor rolled Donkersley on to his back, supporting him on his chest and talked to calm him down.

He then towed him in rescue fashion for around 40 minutes in the dark to the opposite shoreline.

Both men were hospitalised.

O'Connor, now retired from the police, has kept in contact with Donkersley. He said the memory of the incident "never goes away".

SERGEANT RYAN LILLEBY AND CONSTABLE CHRIS McDOWELL

Sergeant Ryan Lilleby. Photo / Supplied
Sergeant Ryan Lilleby. Photo / Supplied

They were attacked by a man wielding two knives. Tasers didn't stop him, he kept coming. But Sergeant Ryan Lilleby and Constable Chris McDowell still managed to take the man down and arrest him.

They had responded to a family violence callout to a Papatoetoe house on July 27, 2014.

A woman met them outside, saying her husband was inside armed with a knife and was threatening self-harm. He had threatened to kill her.

When they got inside, the man refused to drop two knives. A Taser was fired but he still charged with both knives outstretched.

Lilleby fired his Taser, again to no effect, before the policemen became separated as they attempted to back out of the room.

Sergeant Chris McDowell and family. Photo / Supplied
Sergeant Chris McDowell and family. Photo / Supplied

McDowell, cornered by the man in the kitchen, was stabbed in the stomach, which was protected by stab-resistant body armour.

As the man lunged at McDowell's unprotected neck, Lilleby grabbed him and wrestled him to the floor.

Lilleby struck the man in the head to momentarily stun him, allowing him, McDowell and another officer to disarm him.

McDowell praised his colleague: "If he had fired his pistol he could have shot me. If he didn't fire, the offender could have killed me. Ryan's reaction was outstanding."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 28 Sep 2016 05:06:45 Processing Time: 591ms