Slain officer's relatives quarantined in Rotorua

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Jun 2020, 10:27AM
Constable Matthew Hunt. (Photo / Police)
Constable Matthew Hunt. (Photo / Police)

Slain officer's relatives quarantined in Rotorua

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Jun 2020, 10:27AM

The grieving family of slain policeman Matthew Hunt face a heartbreaking wait for his funeral, with overseas relatives required to spend 14 days in isolation.

Hunt's devastated mother Diane was further upset by the fact her brother and sister-in-law have been sent to managed isolation in Rotorua - 220km from Auckland, the Herald can reveal.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said the couple "want to be there for [Diane] and she needs them there. It's really adding to the level of grief and frustration she's feeling at the moment".

The enforced quarantines will likely delay 28-year-old Hunt's funeral, Cahill believes.

After spending time with the young constable's mother on Sunday morning, Cahill says splitting up the devastated family is only adding to their grief.

"There's two sides to that whole [quarantine] issue but they are clearly upset by that," he told the Herald.

"A week ago, [maybe] we could've done something. Whether there's some other way of forming some sort of family bubble that protects them but also protects the rest of New Zealand, I don't know the answer. But certainly it's tough for them to have to deal with that added issue on top of their grief."

Constable Matthew Hunt was fatally shot in Massey on Friday. Photo / NZ Police

Constable Matthew Hunt was fatally shot in Massey on Friday. Photo / NZ Police

It's understood another close family member is also due to arrive from India but they will also need to go into managed isolation before joining the grieving family, several of whom joined Hunt's colleagues for a blessing ceremony yesterday.

Waitematā police district commander Superintendent Naila Hassan confirmed to RNZ this morning that relatives' isolation requirements would delay Hunt's funeral.

"It's really difficult for the family coming into managed isolation," Hassan said.

"I have been speaking to the family directly, I do have liaison officers assigned to specific family as they come in to the country. We are doing everything we can as an organisation to be the best we can be within the restrictions and the role we have as New Zealand Police.

"I understand they are in Rotorua, to say whether they're okay is probably not my position, you can imagine they'd rather be here. They'd rather be with the family that is here."

Hassan said that while it was an unfortunate situation, as with all other arrivals to country, the Covid-19 restrictions still applied.

Hundreds of police officers, well-wishers and family gathered yesterday to perform a karakia at Reynella Drive in Massey, West Auckland where Constable Matthew Hunt was slain on Friday. Photo / Alex Burton

Hundreds of police officers, well-wishers and family gathered yesterday to perform a karakia at Reynella Drive in Massey, West Auckland where Constable Matthew Hunt was slain on Friday. Photo / Alex Burton

Two Rotorua hotels used for managed isolation

The Ministry of Health confirmed the Government has activated two new "managed isolation facilities" in Rotorua this weekend after Auckland reached capacity.

Asked why a request by Hunt's family to stay in isolation in Auckland was denied, a ministry spokesman said: "It would be inappropriate to discuss individual returnees, however, all passengers on this flight were moved to Rotorua."

Grieving police officers want to attend Hunt's funeral – and Cahill said they'd also like a memorial service when the time is right – but he told his mother this morning to prioritise her family's wishes over anyone else's.

Hunt, a person of high-integrity whose family say had a "life-long dream" to be a police officer, was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop in the West Auckland suburb of Massey on Friday morning.

A 24-year-old man has been charged with Hunt's murder, the attempted murder of a second officer he allegedly shot, and wounding a member of the public who was hit by a car during the tragedy.

District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan sheds a tear as she speaks to the media during at Henderson Police Station. Photo / Alex Burton

District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan sheds a tear as she speaks to the media during at Henderson Police Station. Photo / Alex Burton

The deadly shooting had had a major impact on the police community, Cahill said today.

"They're the same as every other human being – it's the initial impact, the shock, the grief that they suffer," he said.

Some officers were feeling frustrated they couldn't do more to help Hunt's family – while those working on the inquiry "are at least able to be useful", Cahill said.

Cahill said the killing demonstrated risks to officers in "everyday routine policing", highlighting it was not the first time an officer had been shot and killed during a seemingly routine police stop.

"If you go through the history [of fatal police shootings], many of them involve vehicle stops," Cahill said.

He was working in Hawke's Bay when Constable Glenn McKibbin was shot and killed while standing beside his patrol car in Flaxmere on April 21, 1996.

"It's those simple things that can be the most dangerous – and that's what we've been saying," Cahill said.

"There's been a lot of debate recently around why police would need to be armed stopping vehicles, but cops will tell you, most firearms they find are in vehicles. It's the reality of policing, compared to what the public understand that situation is.

"We can't ignore the fact there's a debate to be had and whether the mix of how police access firearms is right. And this incident will have to form part of that, but let's just concentrate on the important stuff for the [Hunt] family first."

Yesterday, more than 150 police officers walked alongside the 28-year-old's family during an emotional ceremony at Reynella Dr in Massey where Hunt was shot on Friday.

Fellow officers wept and embraced as a tide of blue police blazers, ties and caps slowly tread the asphalt where Hunt fell.

A powerful haka was performed by Hunt's colleagues, as friends and family gathered around the site, and a large pile of flowers were laid across the road.

 

Photo / Alex Burton

Photo / Alex Burton

Hunt and colleague were both shot after coming across a crashed car they had tried to pull over earlier in the day. The second officer is in a serious condition in hospital along with a pedestrian who was also injured during the incident.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said the blessing, which wasn't an official or public ceremony, was organised purely for New Zealand police to grieve together for a fallen colleague,

"The number of staff that were present talks to the support that Matt had. There were hundreds of police staff there," he said.

"I think that says a lot to us all. A reminder of how highly respected Matt was by us all."

But, perhaps the most intimate display of grief yesterday belonged to Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan who alongside Chambers fronted a press conference at Henderson police station.

Pausing for half-a-minute to compose herself before uttering a word, Hassan wept throughout the press conference and returned again and again to her own personal "devastation".

"Everyone is just absolutely devastated. There is no higher sacrifice. There is no worse scene than seeing your colleague get killed in the line of duty," Hassan said.

"He was killed serving his country. There is no higher price."

When asked to describe Hunt as a person, Hassan turned first to his "professionalism".

"He was an outstanding police officer. Having spoken to his colleagues, having spoken to his mum a couple of times over the last few days," Hassan said.

"I've been with his mum and she speaks highly of his desire for perfection. His desire to be the best he could be. And he had certainly shown that in his first few years as a police officer.

"It was his dream job."

Hunt was raised on the Hibiscus Coast by his mother Diane, with his sister Eleanor, and in October 2017, he finally became a constable and started his work on the frontline.

Photo / Alex Burton

Photo / Alex Burton

"It was his life-long dream to be a police officer," his family said in a statement.

Yesterday, the Hunt family made a request for an exemption to Diane's brother and sister-in-law being sent to new isolation facilities in Rotorua to which dozens of international arrivals in Auckland are now being bussed to.

Another close family member is also due to arrive from India, the Herald understands.

Asked why a request by Hunt's family to stay in isolation in Auckland was denied, a ministry spokesman said: "It would be inappropriate to discuss individual returnees, however, all passengers on this flight were moved to Rotorua."

The Ministry of Health confirmed the Government has activated two new "managed isolation facilities" in Rotorua this weekend after Auckland reached capacity.

Grieving police officers want to attend Hunt's funeral – and Cahill said they'd also like a memorial service when the time is right – but he told his mother yesterday morning to prioritise her family's wishes over anyone else's.

A 24-year-old man has been charged with Hunt's murder, the attempted murder of a second officer he allegedly shot, and wounding a member of the public who was hit by a car during the tragedy.

The deadly shooting had had a major impact on the police community, Cahill said yesterday.

"They're the same as every other human being – it's the initial impact, the shock, the grief that they suffer," he said.

Photo / Alex Burton

Photo / Alex Burton

Some officers were feeling frustrated they couldn't do more to help Hunt's family – while those working on the inquiry "are at least able to be useful", Cahill said.

The NZ Police Association has also established a fund for the public to donate to the Hunt family and the family of the yet unnamed officer injured alongside Hunt.

Kiwis can donate to the charitable fund via a payment to this NZ Police Association account: 02-0500-0756808-00

The amount raised by the official fund is not known, but a separate GiveaLittle page set up by a member of the public has already raised over $20,000.

These donations will be redirected to the official NZ Police Association fund.

Photo / Alex Burton

Photo / Alex Burton