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Recognising acts of bravery and humanity

Patron's Message

Kia ora tatou

When someone’s life is in danger, we would all like to think that we would step up and provide assistance. The reality is that it takes enormous courage and clarity of mind to go against our instincts for self-preservation and to put our own lives in danger.

Those who do so deserve our utmost respect and recognition. Since 1898, The Royal Humane Society has provided an opportunity for our citizens to acknowledge extraordinary acts of bravery, and to make the circumstances of these acts more widely known. In this way we express our collective gratitude and affirm the value of selfless and heroic actions.

Governors and Governors-General have been Patrons of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand since its inception in 1898. I am honoured to continue that tradition and, on behalf of my fellow New Zealanders, to host ceremonies for the recipients of medals at Government House.

The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO

Governor-General of New Zealand

LATEST NEWS - Stanhope Gold Medal

Murray Michie from Bulls has been awarded the Stanhope Gold Medal by the Royal Humane Society in London for his bravery in rescuing a mother and her three daughters following a serious car accident that occurred near Bulls on 11 July 2015.

“This is the premier bravery award selected from nominations made by Royal Humane Societies in the Commonwealth” says Austin Forbes QC, the President of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand. “It is a singular recognition of Mr Michie’s bravery at the accident scene in rescuing the occupants of an upturned Toyota Landcruiser which was on fire”.

Mr Michie’s reaction to this award was “This is unbelievable. I was just happy to be able to help a family out of a terrible situation. I feel very honoured, but humbled to be the recipient of this award”.

The mother who was rescued, Susan Evans, says that Mr Michie “is of course my hero, as from all I’ve been told I wouldn’t be here today otherwise”.
When Mr Michie arrived at the scene of the accident he saw flames and smoke in the Landcruiser. He went over to it and worked to free all of the occupants, progressively leaving with them and then returning again. He re-entered the vehicle three times. He became aware that flames which had started in the motor were beginning to spread into the passenger area of the vehicle. “The fire had grown in intensity throughout the period of the rescue and indeed after the mother was carried to safety the vehicle exploded” says Mr Forbes.

Mr Michie was awarded a Silver medal by the Humane Society of New Zealand, which was presented by the Governor-General in September 2016. Four other persons who assisted at the accident as well were also awarded Bronze medals and Certificates of Merit. Mr Forbes says that their assistance in saving the occupants of the vehicle were also worthy of recognition.

The Stanhope Gold Medal award is named after a British Royal Naval Officer, Commander Chandos Scudamore Scudamore Stanhope, who was recognised as a national hero and received a Royal Humane Society Silver medal in England in 1851 for a life-saving event in rescuing a seaman.

Mr Forbes says “This award is especially noteworthy because it is the first time a New Zealander has received it since 1968. That award was to a man who had also previously received a Silver medal from the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand for his bravery in rescuing a climber who had fallen into a crevasse on a mountain in the Mt Cook National Park”.

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