A life and career cut short
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A graduate of Police College Wing 312 in 2018, Matthew started his Police service at Orewa and Helensville police stations before moving to the Waitemata road policing team based at the Harbour Bridge Station.
He was raised on the Hibiscus Coast and is described by his mother, Diane, as a “classic coastie” – laidback, calm and community focused, and with a beaming smile.
It was those traits that also made him a highly regarded and effective police officer, known for his calm and considerate approach to the job with an ability to defuse tense or potentially violent situations using simple and clear communication.
After only a short time in the job, he was expected to excel in his chosen career.
Athletic and quietly academic, Matthew had always wanted to be a police officer. Before joining Police, he completed a criminology degree at AUT, worked as a case manager at Auckland Prison, helping prisoners reintegrate into society, and spent time living in Britain.
The principal of his former high school, Orewa College, Kate Shevland, has described Matthew as “an absolute legend” – a warm-natured student who gave everything a go, including setting up the school’s first outdoor education programme, including a snow camp at Mt Ruapehu and a surf camp at Tāwharanui beach.
His sporting ability was equally notable, encompassing squash, golf, bowls and an outstanding ability on the softball field.
Matthew brought all those qualities to Police College in 2017. His instructor, Sergeant Andrew Heffey, was “gutted” when he learnt of Matthew’s death. Reflecting on the tragedy, he said: “I always worry, have I taught them enough to keep them safe. No matter how careful we are, we police with the consent of the public, and we need to interact with them. We put a lot of trust in the public that they’re not going to do us harm.”
He remembered Matthew as not only “a really nice guy and a good, solid worker”, but also as someone willing to understand the law and with a humble attitude.
Diane said her son had a huge team behind him. “Everyone who knew Matthew knew him to be a selfless man of huge integrity. He loved serving his community and protecting his fellow New Zealanders. My heart is crying out that this was so unnecessary and tragic.”
Matthew is survived by his parents, Diane and Graeme, his sister, Eleanor, and his aunt and uncle, Robert and Wendy.