Quakes, terror attacks: Honours ceremony acknowledges Canterbury cop's work

Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price. Photo: Jason Oxenham
Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price. Photo: Jason Oxenham
Canterbury's top cop will on Friday be officially honoured for his work over a decade where unprecedented events forever changed the district - and the country.

Superintendent John Price was named on the New Year's Honour list, becoming an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).

His official investiture is taking place this afternoon at Government House in Wellington.

Price was one of 22 Cantabrians on the honours list including Southern Communications Centre manager Inspector Kieren Kortegast, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Price, who has overseen both major Christchurch quakes and the 2019 terror attack during his tenure, said the ONZM was not just an honour for him but "an acknowledgement for the team as a whole".

"And I am only part of that extraordinary team," he said when the honour was first announced.

"It's for all police in Canterbury who have been working with a real purpose and commitment over the last 10 years to do our very best for our people, and the community that we serve every day.

"To have been part of a police team that has helped to bring peace, safety, inclusiveness and unity to our community has been the greatest reward of all.

"As police we have strived to ensure a safe and inclusive New Zealand together."

Price said his focus had always been "on people".

"And putting our community first and at the centre of our service.

"Anything which impacts on the public impacts us all.

"These momentous challenges have ensured a greater strength of a common goal where police demonstrated courage, compassion and confidence."

Canterbury born and bred, Price trained and worked as a teacher before joining the police in October 1987.

Then-Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price...
Then-Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price speak to media following the 2019 terror attack. Photo: NZ Herald
He graduated from Police College in March 1988 and initially worked in frontline response, prevention and investigative roles in Wellington District.

In 2004, he was part of the Operation Austin team in Rotorua, investigating serious historical sexual offending by fellow officers against Louise Nicholas, including pack rape and corruption.

In 2005, Price was sent to Operation Phuket as the Anti Mortem commander as part of the international disaster victim identification team following the devastating Boxing Day tsunami.

When he returned to Christchurch he was promoted to the rank of Inspector and in 2010 and 2011 took the lead role as the Operation Commander in response to the September and then later the February earthquakes.

Throughout 2011 he led the charge as Acting District Commander during the many further earthquakes.

Price then did a stint back in Wellington as the Kāpiti-Mana Area Commander and in 2012, promoted to Superintendent, he took on the role of national manager of training and development at the Police College.

It was 2015 when he took on the top job in Canterbury, based in Christchurch.

Since then he has led the responses to the 2016 North Canterbury earthquakes, 2017 Port Hill fires and was the forward commander during and following the mosque shootings.

"The pride shown by all our people since that day coupled with the goodness of humankind simply fills my heart and soul," he said of his district.

"Canterbury has responded to a multitude of challenging policing and community issues in the last 10 years, but I want us to be known as more than a crisis policing district.

"I am exceedingly proud of the way the Canterbury police team have responded to the extraordinary array of emergencies we have been faced with, but policing goes deeper than response."

Commissioner Andrew Coster said the honours for the Cantabrians were well deserved and "reflected the deep commitment the officers have to doing their very best for communities in times of crisis, and in proactive prevention work".

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