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Fiery rescue earns NZer rare bravery award

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/01/2017

For the first time in nearly 50 years, a New Zealander has been awarded the prestigious United Kingdom Royal Humane Society's Stanhope Medal.

In 2015, Murray Michie, then 58, rescued Susan Evans and her three daughters from their burning vehicle following a road crash in the Manawatu.

As others helped keep the flames at bay, he cut three of them from their seatbelts with a pocket knife.

Last year he was awarded the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand's Silver Medal in recognition of his bravery.

The New Zealand society nominated him for the Stanhope Medal, and he came out ahead of nominations from societies in Australia, Canada and the UK.

New Zealand society president Austin Forbes says the last New Zealander to be awarded the medal was Mt Cook ranger Robert Ryan in 1968, for belaying down a crevasse to help rescue a climber where their climbing companion was killed.

Despite the lethal combination of smoke, flames and leaking petrol, Mr Michie had helped rescue Ms Evans and her daughters and moments later their vehicle exploded.

"It's just incredible. People see what's happened and feel there's no alternative but to go in there. It's very much to their credit," Mr Forbes said.

The society is hoping Governor-General Patsy Reddy will agree to present the medal to Mr Michie but a date is yet to be confirmed.

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