Heartfelt tribute to victims of Aramoana shooting

It was a day filled with sadness, grief and aroha.

As the dozens of first responders, family, and friends stood solemnly around the memorial to David Gray’s victims, it was clear the events of November 13, 1990, were still fresh in their minds.

The group of more than 60 people gathered to mark 30 years since the Aramoana massacre on Saturday.

The service was part of a weekend of events to honour the anniversary, organised by retired Dunedin senior constable Paul Buchanan.

Former members of the armed offenders squad (AOS) and other first responders travelled from around the country to be part of the occasion.

Police chaplain Monsignor John Harrison leads a prayer for the victims of the Aramoana massacre...
Police chaplain Monsignor John Harrison leads a prayer for the victims of the Aramoana massacre during a service to mark the 30th anniversary of the shootings on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The service began with an honour guard formed by current Dunedin AOS members, before a tribute from Mr Buchanan and a minute of silence.

Police chaplain Monsignor John Harrison led prayers, and wreaths were laid.

Speaking afterwards, District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said the service was emotional, but also showed the strength of the police whanau.

There were many changes to policing as a result of Aramoana, reflected in modern practices, he said.

He also paid tribute to Mr Buchanan for organising the event.

“This event needed to be organised with a great deal of aroha and a great deal of sensitivity, and you can see today that Paul pulled that off.”

Mr Buchanan described the day as humbling.

He had heard stories of selflessness and courage that amazed him.

Each year, a few of those involved with the Aramoana response would get together and catch up over a drink, but this year they decided to do something bigger.

‘‘It’s just fantastic. It’s almost like we just left yesterday and joined up again today.’’

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