There were tears and applause as two police officers were honoured with the Police Association's Bravery Award in Wellington this morning.
Retired Senior Constable Ross Andrew and Constable Darren Critchley were nominated for the award by their peers, following their courageous actions last year.
Mr Andrew was hypothermic after rushing to the aid of a man and a woman whose truck plunged 50m down a bank in Manawatu Gorge in July last year.
He made his way down a steep ravine and waded through rising water to try save the pair. The woman, who was a passenger in the truck, was retrieved first, followed by the driver.
Mr Andrew and another officer, Constable Simon Ashton, stayed with the driver in the water for an hour, keeping his head above water until the rescue helicopter arrived.
A paramedic had to be winched down from the helicopter to the crash site for the driver and passenger. After this, one of the officers was winched out while the other was able to climb out of the gorge with the help of ropes and other staff.
Mr Andrew said risk assessment goes out the window in these situations.
"I knew I was getting cold, but I figured if I got really bad and if it was going to take a while, I could be swapped out. I was there, I was wet, I was cold, but I was there doing it."
Manawatu Police Area Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart said at the time that the officers along with all the emergency services at the scene put their lives at risk.
"I am incredibly proud of the actions of both officers, they are heroes. They went above and beyond the call of duty and put their lives at risk to save the life of the truck driver and his passenger."
Mr Critchley braved dangerous sea conditions to save a German couple from drowning at Ninety Mile Beach in December last year.
He was able to save the man, but unfortunately 23-year-old Carolin Jentsch had drowned before he was able to reach her.
Mr Critchley was off-duty when he borrowed a life jacket and surfboard and went to the rescue.
After rescuing the man and attempting to revive the woman, Mr Critchley had to break the news to her distraught friends.
Mr Critchley said at the ceremony he had attended another drowning at the same spot.
"My heart goes out Carolin's family and also to Jared Lineses' family who were there two years before, another family who lost their son. It just shows how fragile life can be."
Through tears, Mr Critchley told the crowd he wears his uniform with pride and would recommend his job to anyone.
The awards were established in 2010 to recognise officers for their outstanding acts of bravery.