Watch: Moving haka for slain police officer Constable Matthew Hunt

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 4:44PM

Watch: Moving haka for slain police officer Constable Matthew Hunt

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 4:44PM

Police officers in Eden Park today performed an emotional and heartfelt haka in memory of slain Constable Matthew Hunt.

The officers performed "Ko Te Uru Pounamu" at the memorial ceremony for Hunt.

Dozens of officers performed the haka, their voices echoing across the stadium, in a moving tribute to the 28-year-old police officer.

Today the 28-year-old's memorial service was held at the home of his favourite rugby team - who have dedicated the last seat he watched a game from in his honour - with his mother speaking for the first time since his slaying.

"No mother would want to be in the position I find myself today," said Diane Hunt of her only son.

"Every day, in every way, you made me so so proud to be your mum.

"We saw you Matthew ... saw behind your veil of humility and saw the calibre of the man you were destined to become."

Hunt was shot multiple times and killed during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop in Massey.

His colleague was also shot, but survived.

Since he was a child Hunt had a dream of being a policeman - but no one in his family
ever imagined that dream would become their worst nightmare.

"From a very young age Matthew expressed his desire to join the police, it never wavered and he found his forever family with the police - it was a perfect fit for him," said Diane Hunt.

Hunt's uncle Robert Winterbottom, Diane Hunt's brother, spoke of the moment he learned the promising young police officer had been killed.

"My sister was texting my wife ... saying that an officer had been shot," he said.

"She was saying it can't be Matt, they would have told me by now ... and then the texts
stopped and the phone started ringing, and we knew it was Matt."

Winterbottom and his wife Wendy returned to New Zealand alongside Hunt's sister Ellie when they learned of his death.

They had to spend 14 days in managed isolation as per the Covid-19 border restriction rules.

"Matt was too young to go. He won't get married or have children or grow old but what he does have now is immortality," said Winterbottom.

"The 33rd serving police officer to lose his life serving New Zealand will never be forgotten.

"MH9H85 - rest in peace, Matt we love you."

Before his family paid tribute, Hunt's body was escorted to Eden Park for the service by a police motorcade.

His coffin, draped in a police flag and adorned with white lilies, was carried in by his close friends.

The service itself is private at the request of the 28-year-old's family. But they gave the Herald permission to livestream it.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the service alongside Police Minister Stuart Nash, Police Association President Chris Cahill and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and other members of his executive were also paying their respects, with hundreds of uniformed police officers present and the Eagle helicopter hovering overhead.

Tributes to Constable Hunt were led by Commissioner Andrew Coster.

"It is a privilege to be here with you today, to pay tribute," he said.

"Matt's memory is front of mind for us all ... together we grieve with you, we share your loss, we will never forget Matt.

"We won't forget that he loved his job, serving his community.

"Matt's death touched all New Zealanders."

Coster said Hunt had paid the "ultimate sacrifice".

"He lived police values, he seized the opportunities to serve his community and make a difference," Coster said, almost breaking down in tears.

He said policing was "inherently dangerous" due to the unexpected element of the job.

"We are appalled by the taking of a young life in the sort of circumstances that keep us awake at night," he said.

Coster paid tribute to Hunt's colleague who was also shot on the day.

"I commend you for your bravery and for doing all that you could in that horrendous situation," he said.

He said all 14,000 police "held their arms out" to the Hunt family.

"We will continue to honour his life ... And we will honour it for generations to come ... with the courage and compassion that Matt showed as he tried to build a safer country.

"Constable Matthew Hunt, thank you for your service - may you rest in peace," Coster finished.