Citations mark police efforts in Canterbury quake
The actions of 21 Marlborough police staff were officially recognised at a Canterbury earthquake citation ceremony in Blenheim yesterday afternoon.
Marlborough police were the first to arrive in Christchurch after the February 22 earthquake in 2011 that killed 185 people and caused widespread devastation.
Senior Sergeant Peter Payne, of Picton, led the first contingent of 14, who were sent straight to the 13-storey Christchurch central police station in Hereford St for a briefing.
The building was virtually empty, Mr Payne said.
"It was quite surreal," he said. "It was chaos, but it was organised. There was no briefing; we were split in two, with the majority deployed to the CTV building."
The scene in the central city was unlike anything he had seen.
"It looked like a UFO had come and zapped everyone up."
Constable Lindsay Tilbury also remembers the chaos: "There were cars upside down, sirens going off, noise everywhere. There were banks with windows smashed, and money just sitting on the counter."
Mr Payne said Marlborough police played a key role in cordoning buildings, uncovering some of the bodies and helping to remove them.
The team worked for 27 hours straight.
After helping with the CTV building, they moved on to the PGG building on Cambridge Tce in central Christchurch.
They worked for seven days before returning to Marlborough although some, including Mr Tilbury, returned to Christchurch to work a second cycle.
Tasman district police commander Superintendent Richard Chambers presented the special citation to the police staff at the ceremony. Police who worked in the earthquake zone between February 22 and April 30 were eligible for the award.
The dress distinction ribbon is four stripes in the Canterbury colours of red and black, with each stripe representing the efforts of the Fire Service, St John, including the Wellington Free Ambulance, Police and the NZ Defence Force.
Police staff who stayed in Marlborough and took on extra jobs were also acknowledged, as well as the families of the police who worked in Christchurch.
"The actions of our staff were nothing short of heroic," Mr Chambers said.
"They searched collapsed buildings, rescued the living and recovered the dead. This is policing at its best."
WHO WAS THERE:
Inspector Stephen Caldwell
Senior Sergeant Peter Payne
Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan
Sergeant Mike Porter
Sergeant Mike Western
Sergeant Tony Yardley
Sergeant Barrie Greenall
Sergeant Graham Single
Detective Michael Lawson
Senior Constable Susan Bush
Senior Constable Anthony Barrow
Senior Constable Beau Webster
Senior Constable Paul McKenzie
Senior Constable Alan Hendrickson
Senior Constable Timothy Goodyer
Constable Nigel Bay
Constable Sean Jones
Constable Andrew Young
Constable Tony Burdon
Constable Andrew Holdaway
Constable Lindsay Tilbury
- The Marlborough Express