Case 1744           DUANE ASHLEY COFFIN                BRONZE MEDAL
                              WAYNE NEIL BUTCHER                  BRONZE MEDAL

Close to midnight on the evening of 12 September 2015 Police were alerted to an incident at West Quay, East Pier, Ahuriri, Napier. A young woman had been seen to fall from the edge of the wharf into the sea, a fall of approximately 4.5 metres. The tide was low, the water very cold and the air temperature 1 degree Celsius. The site was dark. When police arrived they saw her floating in the water, unresponsive and possibly unconscious.

Constable Coffin (47) was one of a group of police which had climbed down to the deck of a fishing boat moored alongside.
Removing his protective vest he jumped into the water and swam to the woman supporting her while manoeuvring her towards the boat from which he was thrown a mooring rope for support.

Assisted by Wayne Butcher (54) who had also entered the water when he saw the difficulty Coffin was in, he was able to place it around the woman under her arms, making it possible for others to winch her up onto the boat.

Both of the rescuers had been in the cold water for a considerable time. The cold had sapped their strength and they were exhausted to the point that Constable Coffin was unable to climb steps to the wharf and had to be assisted onto a nearby boat. Mr Butcher moved to steps which enabled him to climb onto the wharf. He too had difficulty.

They were attended to by ambulance officers and treated for hypothermia as was the young woman.



In Zealandia's Brave, author, John D Wills records a wealth of history of all three of the Royal Humane Societies which have bestowed awards for bravery and acts of humanity in New Zealand or to New Zealanders and others for deeds performed either in the United Kingdom or Australia.

The book was written and published as a centennial project for the Society which celebrated its century in October 1998.

The book contains a record of all the awards bestowed, along with the citations recounting the deeds which were being recognised.


An alphabetical index  allows for easy identification and location of records by families and researchers.


A copy of the index can be found here.

The Executive Officer receives many approaches seeking information and is happy to be of service.

Many New Zealand Libraries have the book in their collections.

ISBN 0-473- 55 6-6