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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

TUESDAY, 23 JUNE 2020

The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

MOTIONS

New Zealand Police—Death of Constable Matthew Hunt

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I seek leave to move a motion without notice relating to the tragic death of Constable Matthew Hunt.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being taken? There appears to be none.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I move, that this House express its sorrow at the death of serving police officer Constable Matthew Hunt of Waitematā police, who died after sustaining fatal gunshot wounds in Massey on Friday, that it express its sympathies to his fellow officer who was during the same incident, and it acknowledge the commitment and professionalism of his colleagues in the investigation team who responded quickly to apprehend the alleged offenders.

The plaques on the walls around this Chamber tell a story of sacrifice. They tell a story of those who lost their lives in service of this country—28-year-old Constable Matthew Dennis Hunt was also killed serving New Zealand. As Waitematā district commander Naila Hassan said at the weekend, “there is no higher price.” It is a debt that we can never repay.

On behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand, we acknowledge the grief of Matt’s family. We offer our wholehearted sympathies to them, including those family members who have travelled recently to New Zealand, and we grieve for Matt alongside the wider police family. Many of his colleagues from Waitematā district attended a karakia and haka on Sunday at the site where he lost his life. Their strong showing of support speaks to how much Matthew was loved and respected. Along with the outpouring of grief across Tāmaki Makaurau and throughout Aotearoa, police have received messages of support from the global police family as well. After all, to lose a police officer is to lose someone working for all of us, but it’s also a family member, someone’s loved one, and a friend.

I want to thank those who were first on the scene, who tried to help, including the health professionals who worked to treat the officers and also the bystander who was injured. Matt’s death has moved people the length of this country. It touched the members of the Blues rugby team who honoured him with black armbands on Saturday—a team he had supported only recently at Eden Park.

I’m told Matt loved sport and that it was no coincidence his OE took place in London in time for the Rugby World Cup five years ago. His OE was part of a bigger plan to get some life experience suggested to him by a police officer when he first expressed an interest in joining the police. When he finally applied, the person who did his recruitment interview noted that he was “a mature and skilled professional with a developed sense of resilience, excellent problem solving skills, and the ability to perform under pressure.”

He had the ideal qualities of a police officer—not just a police officer; someone who understood and served his community. Matt’s previous experience was as a case manager for the Department of Corrections. He helped with the day-to-day operation of our court system as a registry support officer. His former colleagues at Corrections spoke of his star quality, and that as well as being smart, he had a good way with people. They got the impression he was born to work in the justice sector. His role as a case manager meant he worked alongside people to manage their rehabilitation and reintegration back into the community. It’s no surprise his BA major was in criminology and conflict resolution. His boss at Corrections promised to keep a desk warm for him if he didn’t enjoy his police career.

When he was accepted into recruit wing 312 at the Royal New Zealand Police College in late 2017, he went through his training with Tā Mark Solomon as his wing patron. Tā Mark recalls that when he first met the 60 aspiring new recruits, he was immediately struck by the passion they had for their new career. Matt did, indeed, have a star quality—a star that was taken too soon. To quote “For the Fallen”:

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;

Haere atu rā, Matt.

MIL OSI