Tributes paid on 30th anniversary of Aramoana massacre

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Police have paid tribute to those who lost their lives during the Aramoana massacre 30 years ago today.

Aramoana Massacre Memorial

A memorial to the victims in Aramoana. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Thirteen people – including Sergeant Stewart Guthrie – were murdered and several others injured in the small township north of Port Chalmers, Dunedin, by resident David Gray.

The 33-year-old began shooting after a confrontation with one of his neighbours over a dog.

It remained the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history until last year’s Christchurch terror attack.

Gray was shot and killed by officers the following day.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster paid tribute to the victims of what he described as one of New Zealand’s darkest days.

“Today we acknowledge the lives lost, and the lives forever changed, following the senseless shooting at Aramoana on this day in 1990,” Coster said.

“On days like today the grief of those who knew those who died is felt as keenly as it was all those years ago. There are also many others still living who will be reliving the emotions they felt on that day.

“To the victims’ families and friends, to those who helped and protected neighbours, and to the first responders, including our own staff, who risked their own lives to protect the Aramoana community, we commend your strength and keep you in our thoughts today.”

Sergeant Stewart Guthrie was the sole charge officer at Port Chalmers Police Station and responded immediately to hearing a firearm being discharged.

He knew the gunman, and he and another officer, Constable Russell Anderson, located him at his home address and set about containing him.

When the gunman retreated to the rear of the property, Sergeant Guthrie challenged him. The gunman fired a series of shots, one of which killed Sergeant Guthrie.

His nephew, Jason Guthrie, is now a Superintendent in the police and previously served as commander of the Otago Coastal area.

“I always admired and was very proud of the work he did as a police officer,” Guthrie said of his uncle.

Stewart Guthrie was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his display of extreme courage and bravery.

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