Seven years on, Tasman police officer, Senior Constable Alan Hendrickson has been honored for helping the Australian emergency services during the 2009 bush fire emergency.
Eight officers were awarded the Australian National Emergency Medal by Australian High Commissioner His Excellency Peter Woolcott at the High Commission in Wellington. A ninth medal was awarded in absentia to an officer who could not be present.
The bush fires in 2009 killed 173 people and devastated large areas of the state of Victoria.
The New Zealand contingent helped with disaster victim identification. It included four dog teams tasked with locating victims’ bodies.
The medal was awarded to staff who worked at least 14 days during the official emergency period from 28 January to 5 March, including Black Saturday, 7 February.
Mr Woolcott told the audience, which included the recipients’ family members and district commanders, that New Zealand Police’s extraordinary help during the emergency reflected the nations’ “extraordinary relationship and shared values”.
“The bottom line is we have each other’s backs,” he said. Like siblings we may disagree, “but when things get difficult we’ll always be there for the other”.
Commissioner Mike Bush thanked the officers who travelled to Victoria, their families for supporting them and the Australian Government and High Commission for the acknowledgement of the New Zealand contribution.
“We know the significance of this medal,” he said. “To extend this acknowledgement to us is huge – we absolutely appreciate it.”
Commissioner Bush said the motivation of such missions was to help communities affected by disaster. “We do it because it makes so much difference to those people.”
Senior Constable Alan Hendrickson, Tasman
Sergeant Dene Duthie, Auckland
Senior Sergeant Jason Homan, Waitematā (dog Diesel)
Senior Sergeant Richard McPhail, Southern (retired August 2016)
Sergeant Nick Prince, Wellington (dog Sabre) – presented in absentia
Sergeant Shane Salmond, Auckland (dog Jess)
Senior Constable Barry Shepherd, Bay of Plenty
Sergeant Alistair Sim, Canterbury (dog Ice)
Senior Sergeant Karl Wilson, Auckland