Stewart Graeme Guthrie GC

Name: Stewart Graeme Guthrie

Conflict: Peacetime

Gazetted: February 18, 1992

Service: Civilian

Stewart Graeme Guthrie GC

Medal group

Place/date of birth: Dunedin, New Zealand/November 22, 1948

Rank when awarded GC (and later highest rank): Civilian

Date of bravery: November 13, 1990

London Gazette citation:

Stewart Graeme Guthrie (deceased), Sergeant, New Zealand Police

On 13th November 1990 at the seaside resort of Aramoana, located on the outskirts of Dunedin, a young man ran amok with a firearm and massacred twelve people before being fatally shot by Police the next day.

Sergeant Guthrie, the officer in charge of the Port Chalmers Police Station, was the sole duty officer at the time the incident was reported and was able to identify the gunman as a person he knew. Sergeant Guthrie went to the Aramoana township alone and armed. On arrival he was able to call on the services of another Constable. Sergeant Guthrie took immediate command of the situation, armed the Constable with a privately owned rifle and the pair reconnoitred the village. Their every movement was fraught with danger as they moved about the village being constantly reminded of their own danger by the extent of the visible carnage, the gunman having already killed twelve people.

With limited resources available to him and impending darkness Sergeant Guthrie had the task of locating and containing the crazed gunman, dealing with the wounded and preventing further loss of life. On arrival near the gunman’s house Sergeant Guthrie deployed the Constable to cover the front of the house while he located himself at the more dangerous position at the rear. A thin cordon of the gunman’s house was later completed by the arrival of a Detective and two Constables.

The gunman had been sighted within his house and it can only be presumed that Sergeant Guthrie chose the dangerous position based on his sense of responsibility and the fact that he knew the area and the gunman. The Sergeant had given clear and concise situation reports to Police control and clearly indicated his intention to contain the gunman. Sergeant Guthrie could see the gunman inside the house and became concerned that he might soon move as he had blackened his face and taken up a backpack. The Sergeant reported the gunman breaking windows and endeavouring to throw what appeared to be an incendiary device into the house. After spending some time moving about his property, the gunman moved towards a Constable’s position. Sergeant Guthrie reported his concern that he had lost sight of the gunman and warned the Detective to advise staff to be on the alert. A Constable had now sighted the gunman approaching him and issued a challenge, the gunman retreated in haste passing to the rear of his property.

Due to lack of communication Sergeant Guthrie was unaware of this movement. Sergeant Guthrie had taken cover in sand dunes at the rear of a crib (seaside cottage) next to the gunman’s house when suddenly out of the darkness he was confronted by the gunman. Sergeant Guthrie very courageously challenged him, saying “Stop …, stop or I shoot”. The Sergeant then discharged a warning shot from his .38 calibre police revolver. The gunman then moved around and down upon the sergeant killing him instantly in a volley of shots. The gunman then took the Sergeant’s revolver. Throughout this ordeal Sergeant Guthrie displayed conspicuous courage. His actions in placing himself in danger to protect his staff and members of the public at the cost of his own life were selfless acts of heroism. His bravery and courage were in the highest traditions of the New Zealand Police.

Click here to see full Gazette entry.

Other decorations: N/A

Place/date of death: Aramoana, Dunedin, New Zealand/November 13, 1990

Grave/memorials: Plaque at Dunedin and Port Chalmers Police Stations; memorial at Port Chalmers Cemetery; Stewart Guthrie Memorial Trophy, Royal New Zealand Police College, Porirua

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2018

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum