As first days on the job go, Hamilton bus driver Marino Stoof's was eventful.
The 54-year-old rookie driver had stopped to pick up passengers at Heaphy Tce, in Fairfield, on October 11. A couple tried to board but found they did not have enough money.
Enraged, the man dragged the woman backwards off the bus and started assaulting her.
"I could see she was terrified and I thought no way am I going to let this happen," Mr Stoof said.
"I pulled the handbrake on, jumped off the bus, and told him to stop it. He punched me in the nose but I was determined to get between him and the woman and protect her."
Mr Stoof was among three people given civilian bravery awards at the annual Waikato district police pay parade held at Hamilton Gardens.
Detective Inspector Chris Page said Mr Stoof's bravery prevented the woman being seriously assaulted.
Mr Stoof said despite being punched he had no regrets.
"I don't think of myself as a hero and I'm certainly not a fighter but I do believe it's important we try and look after each other. The scary thing was I later found out this guy had a knife. It could have been a completely different story but I would do it all again."
Others to receive civilian bravery awards were Raewyn Lowe, who intervened to stop a man taking his own life, and Anne Neta McNicol, who stepped in to protect a woman from being assaulted during a domestic dispute.
Yesterday's pay parade also recognised long service, good conduct, courage and dedication to duty by serving officers.
Minister of Police Anne Tolley told the gathering of about 300 people that she was humbled by stories of police bravery.
Results achieved by Waikato district police in the year to June had been "exceptional", she said, with crime down 12 per cent in the region.
The hard work and dedication of officers meant there were fewer victims of crime and communities were safer.
Among those acknowledged was Sergeant Allan Cantley for 42 years' service, and Sergeant Vince Ranger and Senior Constable Keith Bunting, each for 35 years' service.
Senior Constable Bruce Milne, who retired after almost 45 years' service, was named Matamata-Piako Rotary police person of the year.
Constable William Cuthers was named Hamilton Rotary police person of the year.
- Waikato Times