Local Hero Awarded Posthumous Bravery Star

Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 | Leave a Comment

An extraordinary man, killed on an ordinary day: Austin Hemmings

An extraordinary man, killed on an ordinary day: Austin Hemmings

“Good Samaritan” and Devonport resident Austin Hemmings, stabbed to death when he went to the aid of a woman who was being threatened by a man in central Auckland, was  honoured at a ceremony at Government House in Auckland.

Mr Hemmings was posthumously awarded the Bravery Star, New Zealand’s second-highest bravery award, for deliberately putting himself in danger.

Pauesi Leofa Brown was threatening Diane Nonu in September 2008 when Mr Hemmings intervened to help her get away. Brown then stabbed Mr Hemmings once in the chest, killing him.

Mr Hemmings continued to protect Ms Nonu until he believed she had reached a place of safety.

The 26-year-old West Auckland woman  calls Hemmings her guardian angel and says he stayed calm as he tried to talk to the attacker.

“As soon as he confronted the offender, however, it would have become apparent to him that he risked assault and possible serious injury,” his citation says.

“This outstandingly brave decision ultimately cost him his life.”

Last year Brown was jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 16 years for Mr Hemmings’ murder. His appeal was rejected by the Court of Appeal in March.

Mr Hemmings’ wife, Jenny, and their children, Meghann, 22, Jessica, 19, and Gareth, 18, accepted the award on his behalf.

Mrs Hemmings said her husband made the ultimate sacrifice by helping someone in need.

The family would treasure his bravery award, she said.

Elim Christian College teacher Tony McLean and 16 year-old student Anthony Mulder, who died when attempting to rescue the lives of others in the flooded Mangatepopo Gorge river canyon tragedy, were also awarded the Bravery Star at the same ceremony.

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