A hero, wounded at the Aramoana massacre, is married to a young survivor of the horror shooting.
Former anti-terrorist officer Stephen Vaughan, then 27, was shot in the ankle after exchanging a volley of fire with mass murderer David Gray.
He recovered in hospital and met nine-year-old Chiquita Holden, who barely survived a gunshot in the stomach. Her father Gary and sister Jasmine were killed.
Almost three decades later, Vaughan, 55 and Holden, 37, married in a withheld & # 39; surprise ceremony & # 39 ;, described by friends as & # 39; amazing & # 39 ;.
READ MORE: Flashback: the Aramoana massacre
Vaughan was part of the team that was sent to find David Gray after he killed 13 people in 1990 in the small village of Aramoana, near Dunedin.
He felt "a little pathetic for himself", locked up in a hospital bed when the Uncle of Holden asked if she could meet and thank him.
"I realized that this kid just went to hell and was back again and here I was, self-confident through my little corner of the world." I have probably said ten words to her all the time she was there, and then we compared scars. saw her stomach that had been blown apart and sewn again, then looked at my tiny little ankle. It gave me a much greater perspective on who are really the victims of this tragedy, "he said about the tenth anniversary of the shooting in 2000.
Holden escaped after Gray had shot both her and her father. The bullet tore through her left arm and chest and moved in her lower abdomen.
They signed each other's plaster casts. "I kept her signature on my cast and when the cast was removed, I had the nurses cut it out so that I could hold on to it," said Holden.
"She asked me to sign her cast signed by a number of other people, because my cast was only temporary and I knew very few people in Dunedin, it was bare of signatures, she signed my cast, I signed her cast, then she left. & # 39;
He kept the cast, although the couple had not been reunited for years. "I … would often clear up a room where the cast and the articles would be and would think of her and how her life changed or what she does or how she does it in life.
"And when I have a bad day at the office or a hot day with the kids and feel a bit shocked or pity with myself, I just have to close my eyes and think about a piece of plaster. a child on it and it will put my whole world in perspective. "
Vaughan, the father of three girls, drove through the rows of the police after he was adopted at the age of 17. He became the only officer to receive bronze, silver, and gold merits, and headed the Wellington Criminal Investigation Branch. He retired in 2012 and four years later he became an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to the police and the community.
He is now a senior manager at the Ministry of Trade, Innovation and Employment in Wellington.
Holden, a mother of one, studied at Otago University and is now a murder specialist at Slachtofferhulp.
Sunday Star-Times 4
Vaughan told friends that the Christmas party in Wellington was "fantastic" and a "big old age" with "great times ahead". It is clear that the couple is celebrated with friends with a drink on the waterfront of the capital.
– Sunday Star Times