Senior Constable Scott Quate is "humbled" after
receiving the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand Silver Medal for demonstrating extraordinary act of bravery when other lives were in danger.
Quate was one of three silver medal recipients from Hawke's Bay, with the medals awarded on September 29.
Quate has been a police officer in Hawke's Bay for 21 years, and has for the past 10 years been a road policing officer, as well as a crash investigator for the past five.
The near-tragedies, and the tragedies he comes across are "usually after the fact", he said.
"I am there to clean up the mess."
But, as luck had it, the incident which led to him becoming the medal recipient involved him right at the start.
On August 19, 2017, a vehicle towing a trailer left the road and went through a barrier into the Waikato River, near Cambridge.
Quate, who was off duty at the time, was there to be with his wife whose mother had died from cancer.
He arrived at the scene and saw bystanders on the bridge and bank looking into the river.
He observed a man struggling in the river and calling for help, and then saw a body of a woman floating to the surface.
Quate clambered down the steep bank to the river, where the current pushed him towards the two people.
"The water was over my head really quickly."
By holding on to a branch in the water, he assisted the man in holding the woman's head above water.
However, because of the swift current, they were unable to get the woman to the riverbank.
Quate was able to secure the woman with ropes provided by members of the public, who then pulled them to the riverbank.
"It took about 10 minutes for help to arrive."
They managed to lift the woman part-way up the steep bank, where
he gave CPR.
They then moved her to more stable ground where paramedics took over.
The woman was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
She did not survive the accident.
Quate received the medal for entering a deep and fast-flowing river to rescue two people, without regard to his own safety, with his timely actions ensuring that one person was successfully rescued and the second was given the chance to receive medical care.
"Receiving the award was really humbling. I was at the right place at the right time. It was fortunate timing the way it transpired and I just got on with it."
The second silver medal recipient Jason Rewita was deemed "selfless in taking immediate action in his attempt to save a child's life, with no regard for his own safety".
The incident which led to the medal occurred on October 2, 2017 when Rewita was working with colleagues on Heretaunga St West, Hastings when he noticed thick smoke.
He and his colleagues ran towards the direction of the smoke.
An unoccupied building was on fire, and Rewita could hear a child screaming from inside.
There was no way to access the main entrance through the smoke, but Rewita knew he could access another entrance off a side street.
He ran towards it with his colleague. The entrance was blocked by a large bar gate.
He and his colleague were able to bend the bars of the gate sufficiently to allow him to crawl through.
He ran towards the building. The smoke was so thick he could not see in front of him.
About 15 metres from the bank he found a young boy running around with his whole body on fire.
Rewita first tried to pat the flames out with his hands, and then picked the child up and carried him towards the gate. At one point he had to stop and put the boy down so he could catch his breath.
He continued to try to extinguish the flames on the child's clothing.
Rewita and a colleague carried the boy to a more open area, where he comforted the child while members of the public assisted with first aid until an ambulance arrived.
A 10-year-old boy was taken to hospital, but he later died due to significant burns on his body. Rewita received hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.
The boy who died in the fire attended Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga and was remembered as an "inquisitive" student who always had something to say.
The third silver medal recipient was Cameron McCallum.
The incident which led to
his award occurred in the early evening of January 16, 2018, when a husband and wife got caught in a flash rip at Waimarama Beach.
McCallum, 16 at the time, and his friends learned the couple were in distress and rushed into the water.
He reached the man who was struggling to hold his wife, and held the couple and kept them afloat.
Three men saw McCallum with his arm raised above the water.
Two of them grabbed a surfboard and paddleboard while the third went to raise the alarm.
When the two men reached him, he was struggling to keep the couple afloat.
The woman was pulled on to the surfboard and the man was secured to the paddleboard.
The couple were returned to the beach, where CPR was administered to the husband where, unfortunately, he died at the scene.
McCallum was treated by paramedics and taken to hospital.
He received the medal for putting his life at great risk during this rescue.
Had it not been for his actions it is unlikely the woman would have survived.