Leopard Coachlines driver, Simon McKenzie was one of seven Canterbury residents given awards by the United States ambassador during Independence Day celebrations for actions after the February earthquake.
During a Fourth of July ceremony in Christchurch, ambassador David Huebner issued exemplary-service awards to people who “courageously and with great commitment” assisted the large US delegation attending the Partnership Forum in the city immediately after the February 22 earthquake, which killed 182 people. The forum was spread across the city.
“The stoic professionalism of so many in the face of so much ensured that our American visitors were superbly looked after that day,” Huebner said.
“It was for that reason, and to acknowledge that Christchurch is still functional and open for business, that we decided to hold an Independence Day ceremony in Christchurch.”
Simon McKenzie was the coach driver for a large American delegation attending the forum. He had dropped them off for lunch in Latimer Square and was outside Christ’s College when the quake struck.
Despite fearing for the safety of his 29-year-old daughter in the central city, McKenzie helped round up all 150 members of the delegation and took them by coach to the airport.
“Rather than scarper the city and stay home, I stuck around and made myself available to take them to safety,” he said.
“I found the award quite humbling, because for me I was just doing what I should do. I wasn’t expecting this.” said Simon.