UK police feted for NZ quake role
Tue, 26 Feb 2013 8:12a.m.
Fingerprint expert Craig Rose was moved to be part of the team that identified victims of New Zealand's Christchurch earthquake - but even more touched to be remembered two years on.
Mr Rose was one of 10 United Kingdom police officers on Monday to receive a citation for helping in the aftermath of the February 2011 disaster.
"When we got there (in 2011) we were quite moved by the welcome we got and of course we're even more moved now that it wasn't forgotten," Mr Rose told NZ Newswire after receiving his citation from Justice Minister Judith Collins.
The 10 members of the Metropolitan Police service's disaster victim identification (DVI) team were awarded their ribbons at New Zealand House in London.
Mr Rose is a crime scene manager who normally works on big murder and rape investigations.
But in Christchurch he took the fingerprints of victims after their clothing, DNA and teeth had been examined.
"Some of the skills we use every day in crime can be useful for us to actually use in a disaster," he said.
Some 185 people died as a result of the 2011 earthquake.
Mr Rose said it was an honour to help New Zealand because the country - along with Australia - was Britain's "closest friend in the world".
Ms Collins was police minister at the time of the earthquake and visited the mortuary where the DVI team was working.
"Never before have I seen the world come to New Zealand to help us," she said on Monday.
"We have always been part of teams that went to help others."
Constable Phil Stone is the DVI coordinator for the MET.
He worked in the Christchurch mortuary looking at clothing, jewellery and other personal effects that could help identify victims as quickly as possible.
The work was "very traumatic" which meant the bonds formed between co-workers was intense, Const Stone told NZ Newswire.
"It's a very emotional time. It's quite difficult to deal with but you have your own family support and friends to support you through it."
The officer said he felt "overwhelming pride" to be recognised "and to feel that I've been of assistance in something that's so big in the New Zealand history".
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