Award search for quake hero

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Hero: Queenstowner Michael Harford

A Queenstowner recognised for his heroics during the Christchurch earthquakes is hoping a public plea will lead to the return of his lost bravery award.

The events of the tragedy have stuck with Michael Harford, eight years after the Garden City was shaken to its core.

He was honoured with a bravery award for his work rescuing people in the immediate aftermath of the February 2011 quake – but the award itself has disappeared.

He believes he lost it in between moving houses in the Queenstown area, but hasn’t had any luck tracking it down.

With a baby on the way, he’s hoping to be reunited with the award that reminds him of the experience that’s changed his life.

The lost bravery award

He was living in the city at the time, asleep after a gig the night before, when the quake struck.

“It was extremely intense, it’s something you can’t describe to someone who wasn’t there.”

A phone call from a friend spurred him into action, and he headed for the city centre.

Being a stage rigger by trade and used to working under pressure, he believed he was “in a position to do something”.

He ended up working with rescuers in the Pyne Gould Guinness building – one of the worst affected by the quake.

Over the course of several hours he helped rescue people trapped in the building as aftershocks continued to rattle the city.

He also came across those who weren’t so lucky.

“It was like watching myself in a movie, it was so surreal,” he says.

“It was very, very difficult, maintaining a balance bet-ween logic and chaos.”

He says he owes it to the people who nominated him for the award to try to find it.

“It’s been really, really rewarding to see their lives play out, some of them have absolutely flourished.

“It was life-changing for a lot of people in so many different ways.”

He also wants the award around for his future children, “so they get that story”.

“Ultimately it’s a piece of me, it helps me, with all the post-traumatic experiences.

“It’s a wee reminder that I did good.”

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz