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Barbara Pereira, Raimon Bol and Tony Clement were awarded Southern District Police District Commander's Commendations for courage "in the face of extreme risk".
The trio kept the peace while detained at gunpoint after a 62-year-old man smashed his way into the New World supermarket in Oamaru's South Hill armed with a .22 airgun, claw hammer and boning knife while they were at work.
Mr Bol, a baker at the supermarket, said he watched as the man "smashed his way through the front door with a hammer" about 3.30am.
As he was walking past the front doors of the supermarket he saw them being pushed in.
"Next minute I saw this hammer come flying through," he said.
"He smashed the glass - he hit it so hard that the hammer had actually come out of the rubber grip. Then I saw his hand reaching in for his hammer. And then I saw a gun come through the front door and this guy come crawling through inside."
He went to tell Mrs Pereira, who was a cleaner at the supermarket at the time, that they were not alone in the store. Although she initially thought he was joking, soon the intruder, Terence Eric Webb, appeared and "pretty much went straight to the chillers" and started drinking.
Mr Clement, who was the bakery manager at the time, arrived shortly after and the three of them spent the next couple of hours talking to the man "just trying to keep him calm".
Mrs Pereira said she was not frightened "at the time" but in the following days fear settled in as she recalled the experience.
"It's hard to know what to do," she said. "We just chatted.
"Every time he got excited, he'd spin the gun around."
Mr Clement said Webb appeared "jumpy" and agitated. And while he did not think the sawn-off airgun was particularly threatening, Webb also had a knife and claw hammer.
Every so often noise from the chillers operating would mean "he got really jumpy; he got the gun out and went to see what was going on", Mr Clement said.
"The more he drank - because he was drinking - the more agitated he seemed to get.
"The last thing I wanted to do was send him over to the park because I'd feel guilty ... if I sent him over to the park and he ended his life."
All three said they still thought about their experience on occasion.
Mr Clement said he often found himself wondering whether Webb received the help he needed.
On June 13, 2014, Webb, who admitted charges of aggravated burglary, presenting a firearm, carrying an offensive weapon (a knife) and using a firearm to resist arrest, was given concurrent prison sentences of three years (aggravated burglary), six months (using a firearm to resist arrest and carrying an offensive weapon) and two months (three charges of presenting a firearm).
The two Oamaru police officers who first entered the supermarket, now-retired former Senior Constable Stewart Hewett and Constable Dean Paterson, are also likely to receive recognition for their involvement.