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New Zealand Defence Force Recipients of the New Zealand Bravery Medal

The New Zealand Bravery Medal (NZBM) obverse view

Sergeant Philip Samuel BLAKEMAN, Royal New Zealand Air Force - date of actions: 3 June 2004; year of award: 2006

Private Brendon Drew BURCHELL (N52015), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Retired);
Private David Edward Whawhai STEWART (S53606), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Deceased); and
Private Sonny Wayne TERURE (Y53819), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Retired)

  • dates of actions: 11-13 August 1990; year of award: 1999

Flight Sergeant Helicopter Crewman Michael James CANNON (D992039), Royal New Zealand Air Force; and
Sergeant Helicopter Crewman Lisa Kay FRANKEN (nee De Waal)
(W91399), Royal New Zealand Air Force

  • date of actions: 10 July 1994; year of award: 1999

Lieutenant Commander Kevin CARR, Royal New Zealand Navy - dates of actions: 22 and 23 February 2011; year of award: 2014

Able Hydrographic Systems Operator Keran Mana DURRANT, Royal New Zealand Navy (Retired); and
Able Chef Tyson Wiremu JOB, Royal New Zealand Navy

  • date of actions: 16 August 2004; year of award: 2006

Sergeant (now Flight Sergeant) Christopher Mark JOWSEY (W1005419), Royal New Zealand Air Force - date of act: 16 February 2004; year of award: 2005

Staff Sergeant Dion Wayne PALMER, Royal New Zealand Army Education Corps - date of actions: 17 January 2004; year of award: 2006

Driver Mark Mattie POVEY (E180715), Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (Retired) - date of act: 17 September 1993; year of award: 1999

Squadron Leader Shaun Paul SEXTON, Royal New Zealand Air Force - date of actions: 3 June 2004; year of award: 2006

Chief Petty Officer Combat System Specialist Mark TAYLOR, Royal New Zealand Navy - date of act: 5 October 2007; year of award: 2011

Sergeant Ngametua TETAVA (C748537), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment - date of act: 17 October 1999; year of award: 2005

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Citations

Sergeant Philip Samuel BLAKEMAN, Royal New Zealand Air Force - Special Honours List 14 October 2006

Citation

On the evening of 3 June 2004 Sergeant Blakeman was the winchperson in the crew of an Iroquois helicopter that had been tasked to assist with the evacuation of a Royal Australian Navy seaman who had suffered serious spinal injuries after falling down a ravine on the Florida Islands, part of the Solomon Islands group.

The crew had been flying for over three hours, in low cloud and torrential rain, by the time they finally positioned overhead the rescue site in the evening to rescue the seaman. As Sergeant Blakeman was lowered on the winch wire, visibility reduced markedly when the helicopter rotors sucked down the thin layer of cloud from above, such that the winch operator in the helicopter could see neither the ground, nor Sergeant Blakeman on the wire, only the treetops. The winch operation was continued with Sergeant Blakeman passing through a gap in the 65 metre high treetops, amidst broken branches, until he reached the ground some 75 metres below the helicopter. This was almost at the full extent of the winch cable.

Sergeant Blakeman first supervised the winch recovery of the doctor, an activity which was made difficult by the lack of direct communication with the helicopter. Through relaying radio directions through HMAS Tarakan, which was anchored nearby, Sergeant Blakeman was able to effect the doctor’s recovery and then directed his attention to the injured seaman, who he assisted into a stokes litter. He then accompanied the injured seaman as they were winched up to the helicopter. During the ascent they were exposed to the hazards presented by darkness, bad weather, poor communications with the helicopter crew and the distance to the helicopter. The hazards were further compounded when Sergeant Blakeman, and the stretcher-bound casualty, began to spin rapidly for much of the ascent through the trees, until reaching the helicopter.

Sergeant Blakeman was well aware of the significant risk that this rescue posed to him personally. Had the helicopter crew lost visual reference or been unable to maintain a stable hover, the winch cable might have had to be cut and he would most likely have been killed. Despite the risk, he conducted his duties calmly and professionally, and his actions were central to the safe recovery of the injured seaman.

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Private Brendon Drew BURCHELL (N52015), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Retired);
Private David Edward Whawhai STEWART (S53606), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Deceased); and
Private Sonny Wayne TERURE (Y53819), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Retired)

  • - Special Honours List 1999 issued 23 October 1999

Citation

Privates Burchell, Stewart and Terure were members of an Army Adventurous Training Course which became trapped near the summit of Mount Ruapehu by extremely adverse weather conditions on 11 August 1990. The next morning the party decided to move from the shelter of snow caves to the Dome Shelter, a distance of approximately 400 metres. They had covered approximately 250 metres when weather conditions forced them to stop and seek temporary shelter on an exposed feature. After some time in this location, two of the party succumbed to hypothermia and the others began to make the casualties comfortable. In the afternoon, two members of the party left to attempt to get assistance. As more of the party began to show signs of hypothermia, they were placed in their sleeping bags in what shelter there was.

Despite the continuing high winds and windblown snow, Privates Stewart and Terure maintained a continual vigil over their companions throughout most of the night, providing what assistance they could. When it became obvious that assistance was required, Private Burchell, although he had no previous mountaineering experience, volunteered to accompany one of the instructors to descend the mountain. The weather conditions were still extreme with windblown snow, limited visibility, darkness and a high wind chill factor.

The pair were continually blown off course by the winds and, as a result, had to traverse treacherous terrain including several steep bluffs with limited direction finding assistance. Some eleven hours later, they eventually managed to raise the alarm to enable a full search and rescue operation to be mounted. Private Burchell not only had to cope with the most extreme conditions but, because of his lack of experience, had no knowledge of how to adequately overcome them. His courage, determination and perseverance to continue in the face of extraordinary adversity not only brought great credit on himself, but certainly assisted in the rescue of five survivors from Mount Ruapehu the next day.

When a rescue party arrived at the scene about midday on 13 August, Private Stewart was found to have died during the night. Private Stewart would have been fully aware that his actions in continually moving out of shelter and the warmth of his sleeping bag to assist those of the party who were affected by hypothermia, meant that he had an increased chance of also becoming a casualty. He was also aware that he was becoming increasingly exhausted by the continual battling of the elements. Privates Stewart and Terure displayed selfless care of the casualties and their sense of responsibility to their companions testify to their bravery.

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Flight Sergeant Helicopter Crewman Michael James CANNON (D992039), Royal New Zealand Air Force; and
Sergeant Helicopter Crewman Lisa Kay FRANKEN (nee De Waal) (W91399), Royal New Zealand Air Force

  • - Special Honours List 1999 issued 23 October 1999

Citation

On 10 July 1994 a crippled Taiwanese fishing vessel, the long liner Kin Sin II which had suffered an ammonia explosion, was located 25 nautical miles south of Viti Levu in the Fiji group. The explosion and resultant fire had destroyed the ship’s only life-raft and not all the 23 crew members were equipped with life jackets. Two Iroquois helicopters from a Number 3 Squadron Detachment, RNZAF, based in Fiji were tasked with carrying out a rescue mission. Flight Sergeant Helicopter Crewman Cannon and Sergeant Helicopter Crewman Franken were winched onboard the Kin Sin II to take charge of the rescue. Their efforts were hampered by the rolling deck of a burning and sinking ship, no communications with the Iroquois and an inability to communicate with the seamen, only one of whom was discovered to speak English late in the rescue. The vessel sank soon after the successful rescue of all 23 seamen. Both rescuers had only graduated as Helicopter Crew Members one month prior to this incident and were on their first search and rescue mission. In unfamiliar and difficult conditions they displayed courage and professionalism.

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Lieutenant Commander Kevin CARR, Royal New Zealand Navy - Special Honours List 23 June 2014

Citation

When the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on 22 February 2011, Lieutenant Commander Kevin Carr was working at the HMNZS Pegasus Naval Reserve Personnel Division. After the majority of staff had left Pegasus to join their families, Lieutenant Commander Carr assumed command of the small team remaining and instructed them to search the immediate area and offer assistance. When Carr heard of the extensive damage in the central city he led a team of five into the city to support relief efforts. En route to the central city the team assisted trapped survivors in various buildings where they were able.

At about 3.30pm Carr and his team arrived at the Canterbury Television building, which had collapsed in a “pancake” effect, and began a 12-hour rescue operation. Carr’s team faced significant danger from the fire burning within the building and beneath their feet, as well as persistent aftershocks. Carr crawled several times into tight, dark and smoke-filled gaps in the building to search for survivors. On one occasion part of the roof he was standing on collapsed and he fell part way into the hole that was created. Carr suffered a leg wound at this point but managed to free himself, and he continued to provide leadership for his team in a determined effort to rescue as many people as possible. Carr’s team managed to lift a section of the roof to see if any survivors were present in the fire-affected area of the building. The heat and the flames finally forced the team to withdraw.

For information on the other 26 recipients of New Zealand Bravery Awards for bravery related to the Christchurch Earthquake of 22 February 2011 see the Special Honours List 23 June 2014 on the Honours Unit website.

Also see the 23 June 2014 New Zealand Police media statement: Christchurch bravery recognised.

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Able Hydrographic Systems Operator Keran Mana DURRANT, Royal New Zealand Navy (Retired); and
Able Chef Tyson Wiremu JOB, Royal New Zealand Navy

- Special Honours List 14 October 2006

Citation

On the morning of 16 August 2004 Able Hydrographic Systems Operator (AHSO) Durrant and Able Chef Job were in a group of twenty-two members of the ship’s company of HMNZS Endeavour undertaking a routine lifeboat drill in Sydney Harbour . As the lifeboat was about to be lowered into the water, it suddenly released from the lifeboat launch system and plunged 10 metres into the water. On the way it struck the ship’s side, turned over and landed in the water upside down. During the course of this violent descent, AHSO Durrant suffered severe lacerations to his head and face. Able Chef Job suffered a significant impact to his chest, a laceration to his face and bruising to his left leg. Both were shaken from being tossed around in the falling craft as well as suffering from their injuries. In the face of considerable danger and confusion, however, both men coolly and deliberately remained in the upturned lifeboat, ensured that all the occupants had made their escape and no-one had been left behind. They then made their own escape by which time, the exit hatch of the lifeboat had become submerged, the glass window had broken, water was pouring into the boat and there was a danger of becoming trapped inside. Nevertheless, they remained calm throughout. Once clear of the boat, they made their way to safety. Afterwards, both men elected to re-enter the water to assist with the recovery of other members of the crew. By ensuring the safety of other crew members ahead of their own, AHSO Durrant and Able Chef Job displayed considerable bravery and may possibly have saved the lives of several of their ship-mates, who could have been trapped as the lifeboat filled with water.

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Sergeant (now Flight Sergeant) Christopher Mark JOWSEY (W1005419), Royal New Zealand Air Force - Special Honours List 29 January 2005

Citation

Sergeant (now Flight Sergeant) Jowsey was the winch man on an RNZAF Iroquois helicopter conducting rescue and evacuation tasks on 16 February 2004, following catastrophic flooding throughout the Manawatu, Rangitikei and Wanganui regions. His aircraft was informed that two men were caught in the floodwaters of the Whangaehu River, near the township of Kauangaroa. On arriving at the scene, the first man was quickly located chest deep in water. Sergeant Jowsey was winched down and the man safely recovered. The aircraft captain then spotted the second man being swept downstream. The aircraft was quickly positioned above the man, who was attempting to cling to a fence, but the force of the water was such that the fence ripped away. The crew realised that this could be a one-chance rescue as the man was being quickly swept away and the river was full of debris including trees, hay bales, dead stock and other debris. The aircraft was then positioned downstream and Sergeant Jowsey was winched into the river. As the man came within reach, Sergeant Jowsey caught hold of him, but a combination of his weight, the force of the water and the tension from the winch cable dragged both men under water. At this point, while he was completely submerged, one of Sergeant Jowsey's boots became snagged on an underwater obstruction. He managed to kick free of the obstruction and, having maintained a firm hold of the survivor throughout, placed him in the rescue strop. This is not a simple exercise on land, and in these circumstances required great presence of mind and determination. Sergeant Jowsey then assisted the survivor to the aircraft.

Had Sergeant Jowsey not been winched clear of the water, the man would very likely have perished. Also, as Sergeant Jowsey well knew, if the winch cable had snagged while in the water, it would have to be cut away, placing the rescuer himself in grave danger. Sergeant Jowsey subsequently completed three more rescues that day. Throughout the day he displayed courage, professionalism and great compassion for the people he rescued.

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Staff Sergeant Dion Wayne PALMER, Royal New Zealand Army Education Corps - Special Honours List 14 October 2006

Citation

On the afternoon of 17 January 2004 Staff Sergeant Palmer and his family were visiting Himatangi Beach. At about 2.30 p.m., he heard calls for help and saw a young boy and an adult male in difficulties about 50 metres off-shore and about one kilometre south of the flagged area of the beach. Despite a strong undertow, and at considerable risk to himself, he swam about 150 metres before reaching the pair. As both the man and the boy, who was 7 years old, appeared calm, Staff Sergeant Palmer took hold of the boy and began swimming with him back to shore, assuming that the man would follow. Having safely reached the beach with the boy, he discovered that the man had disappeared among the large waves. At this stage, local lifeguards appeared on the scene. Although he was exhausted by his earlier swim in very difficult conditions, he assisted the lifeguards on their safety boat in an unsuccessful attempt to find the man.

A Police investigation into the tragedy states that, had it not been for Staff Sergeant Palmer’s prompt action and in putting his own life at risk, two people would have lost their lives.

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Driver Mark Mattie POVEY (E180715), Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (Retired) - Special Honours List 1999 issued 23 October 1999

Citation

On 17 September 1993, while travelling home from work, in the company of his sister, Driver Povey came upon a motor accident involving a motor vehicle and a motor cycle. The motor cycle and driver were trapped under the vehicle and the motor cycle had exploded on impact. Both vehicles were engulfed in flames and there was an imminent danger of either or both exploding. Driver Povey quickly assessed the situation and sent his sister to a nearby house to alert the emergency services. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Driver Povey then attempted to save the driver of the car. The driver was trapped in the car with his leg on fire, but Driver Povey managed to free the trapped leg and drag him clear of the burning vehicles. Unfortunately, and unknown to Driver Povey, the driver of the vehicle was already dead. The rider of the motor cycle was not able to be recovered and remained under the wreckage where he was burnt beyond recognition. Although Driver Povey was not able to save either of the two accident victims, he acted decisively displaying selfless courage and with complete disregard for his personal safety.

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Squadron Leader Shaun Paul SEXTON, Royal New Zealand Air Force - Special Honours List 14 October 2006

Citation

On the evening of 3 June 2004 Squadron Leader Sexton was captain of an Iroquois helicopter tasked to assist with the rescue of a Royal Australian Navy seaman, who had suffered serious spinal injuries after falling down a ravine on the Florida Islands, part of the Solomon Islands group.

Attempts by others to complete a rescue in daylight had been unsuccessful, but because of the critical nature of the seaman’s injuries and the inability to rescue him by land, Squadron Leader Sexton decided to make a further rescue attempt at night. Despite having to negotiate darkness, low cloud and torrential rain, which forced him to turn back a number of times, he managed to reach the rescue party on the ground at a site beneath 65 metre trees on a plateau 200 metres above the coast.

After the crew had commenced winching a crewman down through a small clearing in the forest canopy, visibility reduced markedly when the aircraft rotors sucked down the thin layer of cloud from above. This meant that the crew could see neither the ground, nor the crewman on the wire; only the treetops. Despite only being able to determine the situation on the ground through radio transmissions, which were relayed by the co-pilot through HMAS Tarakan anchored nearby, Squadron Leader Sexton calmly directed the crew during the recovery. While undertaking the recovery he maintained the helicopter in a steady hover 75 metres above the rescue site, despite having very poor visual references, low cloud and rain, and while using night vision equipment. During the course of this hazardous rescue, Squadron Leader Sexton also capably handled the loss of communications with the winch operator on two occasions.

In the face of the most trying conditions, and having acknowledged the risk that was required to effect the rescue, Squadron Leader Sexton then managed that risk most professionally. His cool demeanour throughout the operation, despite the risk to himself and his crew, was pivotal to the success of his crew in recovering the injured seaman to the aircraft and subsequently to a medical facility. Throughout this rescue mission, Squadron Leader Sexton demonstrated bravery as well as flying skills and leadership of the highest order.

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Chief Petty Officer Combat System Specialist Mark TAYLOR, Royal New Zealand Navy - Special Honours List 2 April 2011

Citation

On 5 October 2007 Chief Petty Officer Combat System Specialist Mark Taylor, a member of the ship's company of HMNZS Canterbury, was involved in a series of sea boat drills for coxswain training while on route from Cape Reinga to Auckland. He was standing in an alcove from which a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) was being lowered. Everything progressed normally until the RHIB touched the water and tipped onto its side. Two crew members in the RHIB at the time managed to escape, but two others were restrained by their harnesses and forced back into the boat by the on-rush of water. As HMNZS Canterbury was being brought to a stop, an attempt was made to hoist the RHIB back on board. At this point, it turned over completely, trapping the two occupants beneath it. One crew member managed to escape, but the other remained trapped inside the upturned boat.

During this time, several of the ship's company entered the water and attempted to rescue the trapped sailor, including Chief Petty Officer Taylor, who had pulled on his wetsuit as the RHIB tipped on its side. He made several unsuccessful rescue attempts by free diving under the boat and trying to cut the trapped sailor's harness. During one of his brief periods on the surface, he attempted to release the boat's self-righting gear, but unfortunately this was also unsuccessful. He continued to try to rescue the trapped sailor, until, after almost losing consciousness and suffering from water in the lungs, he too needed to be assisted from the water. Chief Petty Officer Taylor was later admitted to the ship's hospital, suffering from exhaustion, salt water aspiration and a shoulder strain.

As an experienced diver, Chief Petty Officer Taylor was fully aware of how dangerous these rescue attempts could be, but he displayed bravery when, though injured, he persisted in his efforts to rescue his fellow crew member to the point of exhaustion and where his own life could have been at risk.

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Sergeant Ngametua TETAVA (C748537), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment - New Year's Honours List 2005

Citation

On 17 October 1999, Sergeant Tetava was acting as Safety Supervisor for a live firing range practice at the High Range Training Area in Australia, prior to deploying to East Timor. Sergeant Tetava was supervising Private Kelly, who was in a kneeling position changing the magazine on his weapon, while another soldier was throwing a grenade. Both were positioned close to the edge of a gully. The grenade landed short of its target and on the edge of the gully in such a way that Private Kelly was within the blast danger area of the grenade. Seeing that Private Kelly was unaware of the danger, Sergeant Tetava immediately moved forward, pulled Private Kelly away from the gully edge and lay over his upper body. Private Kelly sustained a flesh wound from the exploding grenade.

Sergeant Tetava's action showed great presence of mind and decisiveness. He displayed a complete disregard for his own safety and in so doing, prevented a fellow soldier from sustaining a much more serious injury.

 This page was last reviewed 23 June, 2014 and is current.