b. 22/11/1948 Dunedin, New Zealand. d. 13/11/1990 Aramoana, New Zealand.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 13/11/1990 Aramoana, New Zealand.
Stewart Graeme “Stu” Guthrie (1948-1990) was born on 22nd December 1948 in Dunedin, New Zealand, the youngest son of Jack and Elizabeth Guthrie (nee Wilson). Stu had an older brother named John. Jack Guthrie was a waterside and Elizabeth was a nurse. The Guthrie boys grew up in Deborah Bay which lies between Port Chalmers and Aramoana, on the South Island. Stu was educated in Port Chalmers moving on to Otago Boys’ High School. He joined the Royal NZ Navy in January 1965 and served with them for 9 years before joining the New Zealand Police. He was promoted to Sergeant in August 1985 and served in the Armed Offenders Squad for 15 years.
On 13th November 1990, a local Aramoana man, David Gray, ran amok with a firearm and massacred 12 people, including 4 children. Guthrie was the sole duty officer at the time the incident was reported. Realising that he knew the gunman, Guthrie went to the township alone. On arrival, he was asked to call on the services of another constable. He took immediate command, armed the other officer with a privately owned rifle, and they looked around the village. As they went around the houses the carnage was visible everywhere. With limited resources and with night falling, he faced the task of locating and containing the gunman, dealing with the wounded and preventing further loss of life. On approaching the gunman’s house, Guthrie got the constable to cover the front while he located himself at the more dangerous position at the rear. The man, Gray, could be seen moving about the house and it can only be assumed that Guthrie chose this position based on his knowledge of the area and the gunman. All the time he gave clear and concise reports to police control and indicated his intention to contain the gunman. He saw Gray blacken his face and take up a backpack and became concerned that he might soon try to leave. After breaking some windows and throwing what appeared to be an incendiary device, Gray left the house but was challenged by the constable and retreated in haste to the rear of the property. Guthrie had taken cover in some sand dunes at the rear of the house and was suddenly confronted by Gray. He fired a warning shot, but Gray fired back killing him. Gray was himself shot and killed by police marksmen the next day.
Guthrie was cremated and his ashes scattered off the coast of Aramoana, at the entrance to Otago Harbour. He left a widow, Sandra (nee Hare) and three children: Stewart, Sara and Scott. Stu was posthumously awarded the GC on 18th February 1992 (though dated 19th December 1991). The incident also saw a George Medal awarded, five Queen’s Gallantry Medals, and five Queen’s Commendations for Brave Conduct. Sandra Guthrie held her husband’s GC privately until her death in October 2017. Prior to her death she discussed the future of his medals with children and it was agreed they would be sold. With the assistance of medal dealer Aubrey Bairstow, the medals were sold to Michael Ashcroft, and following permission for them to be exported from New Zealand in March 2018, they will form part of the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: DUNEDIN CREMATORIUM.
ASHES SCATTERED OFF OTAGO HEADS HARBOUR, DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND.
Aubrey Bairstow – Images of the Guthrie GC Medal Group.