Tangiwai memorial unveiled for unsung heroes


A memorial has been unveiled for two men whose selfless actions saved 134 lives during the Tangiwai train disaster in the central North Island.

It's been 60 years since the crash and Sunday was the first time their actions have been formally recognised.

The families of train driver Charles Parker and fireman Lance Redman paid tribute to the men at the service, along with survivors of New Zealand's worst rail disaster.

Late on Christmas Eve 1953, a train carrying 285 people crashed into the Whangaehu River when a rail bridge collapsed.

Only minutes earlier, the rim of Mt Ruapehu's crater lake had given way, releasing a lahar which surged down the river and washed away one the of piers which held the bridge up.

The crash killed 151 people, but almost twice as many would've perished had it not been for the heroism of the train's driver Charles Parker and its fireman Lance Redman.

Mr Parker pulled the emergency brake, which meant fewer carriages crashed into the water, and the train was able to stop faster because a quick-thinking Mr Redman had poured sand onto the tracks.

Both men died in the accident.