, Superintendent Bob Burns, will present Senior Constable Malcolm Parker with the UN Courageous Service Award at a police medal ceremony today.
In March, while working in East Timor, Mr Parker saw an elderly man riding a horse get into trouble crossing a rapidly rising river near Suai.
His horse was pushed over by the rushing water and the man was being pulled underwater.
Mr Parker waded into the river where he helped the struggling man stay above the water and dragged him to safety.
Witnesses said the man would have drowned without Mr Parker's help.
The commendation, awarded by United Nations transitional force Police Commissioner Luis Carrilho, describes his actions as "heroic and chivalrous" and commends him for his "courageous and valiant accomplishment".
Mr Burns said New Zealand Police, which had a long-term commitment in Pacific deployments, were "highly regarded for their ability to easily interact with the locals and their traditional Kiwi `can do' attitude".
"Mal not only epitomised that reputation throughout his deployment, but took it one step further in risking his own life to save another.
"He is a credit to NZ Police and Southern Police in particular."
Mr Parker served in East Timor as part of the United Nations integrated mission from November 2008 until April 2009.
He was been stationed in south Dunedin for nine years and is the first officer from the district to receive the award.