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Constable Zane Wienk in hospital days after being injured. It was weeks before Zane was back on his feet after his pelvis and femur were shattered when he was struck by a fleeing driver.

For Constable Zane Wienk, every gym day is leg day. Not by choice. It’s to aid his recovery after he was deliberately mowed down by a fleeing driver and left for dead. CARLA AMOS reports.

Former NZ Idol winner and 501 deportee Matthew Saunoa was in a stolen SUV that was being pursued by police in Manukau on November 9, 2022.

Constables Zane Wienk and Jagmeet “Jag” Parmer prepared to deploy road spikes to stop the vehicle. Saunoa veered away and then purposely changed course to hit Zane, catapulting him into the air before his body smashed into a tree trunk five metres away.

Zane lay screaming in pain with a snapped femur, a pelvis shattered in eight places, six or seven broken ribs that had punctured his lungs, and a lacerated liver.

“I wouldn’t say I was chipper,” Zane jokes, “but I thought, ‘It really hurts, this is awful, but I’m going to be OK. Then my breathing got shallow and I thought, ‘This isn't good.’ So I did tell a couple of my mates the whole corny, overly dramatic, ‘Tell my family I love them, tell my missus I love her.”

Zane’s collapsed lungs were choking his aorta and cutting off blood supply – he thought he was about to become the 34th New Zealand police officer killed in the line of duty. A paramedic made the critical call to prioritise a finger thoracostomy – inserting a finger into his chest to inflate his lung – over putting him into an induced coma first.

The now 30-year-old spent the next two months in Middlemore Hospital where, over four surgeries, a titanium rod was inserted in his femur, his pelvis was put back together with 15 screws and a plate was put in his right knee. Throughout it all, Zane was desperate to know if he could ever return to frontline policing.

Zane spoke at Saunoa’s sentencing in October 2023, telling him: “I push through the pain because I refuse to accept the defendant having any role in the way I live my life and refuse to give up on the career I know and love. I will make it back to the frontline.”

On March 15, 2024, Zane’s pledge became a reality – he’s back fulltime on PST5 in Ōtāhuhu.


Slow, painful return

After being discharged from hospital, Zane saw his physio Rose once a week, progressing from floor exercises, stretching and biking to walking with one crutch, “then walking around, just generally try not to fall over”. “Then I progressed to a gym regime three, four times a week. I still do that now.”

Zane, who joined Police in 2019, says he is still plagued by “the odd ache or pain”. “I just take Panadol or Nurofen whenever I feel particularly grouchy. Otherwise, I don't feel like I'm too limited in doing anything.”

He says his leg exercises are vital, especially for his right knee. It’s the injury he worries most about at work, where he wears a knee brace. “It feels a little loose. I've been told it's all psychological by my physio. So that's good. But I'm just constantly worried that when I’m dealing with an offender or go to step out of the car too quick and twist… that it could just go.”


He admits he’s “a smidge slower” than he used to be. “I won't be able to sprint a marathon after someone through marshes. But, hey, that's what [probationary constables] are for, right? I tell my offsider, ‘You catch them and I’ll cuff them’.”

Zane says critical reintegration played a bit part in his return. “Me and my mate, Jag, who was my partner on the day, went together. They put you with a really competent, knowledgeable operator, who was from Special Tactics Group in my case. And she was just awesome… You feel looked after and supported to get back into the swing of it.”

Facing his demons

Part of Zane’s reintegration included being exposed to an oncoming car. “We went out to a racetrack and had one of my colleagues drive a car close to me working all the way up to 80km/h. All the safety stuff was there but the fact you're on the same surface as this car, looking at it coming towards you was a little bit confronting.

“That's the part I was really anxious about. I've always thought my mental health is pretty impenetrable. But in hospital I had a couple of panic attacks out of nowhere, which really freaked me out. So even though I’d been psychologically cleared, having had those [attacks], I was a little bit hesitant. I thought if the PTSD is going to kick in, it will be now. When it didn’t, I was rapt.”

Zane says some of the biggest lessons his horrific experience taught him is to slow down when you can, don’t be complacent and put safety first.

“It's so easy to think it's just another day, it's just another job and then next thing you know, you get hit by a car, you almost die and you're off work for a year and a half.

“There's not a lot of situations that require immediate action and urgency to preserve life… If you can [act] without putting yourself at risk of being killed, then you should. But if I knew what I know now, I wouldn't have gotten out of the car. Sometimes intervening just isn't worth it.”

Looking to the future

Zane says he’s still pretty livid with Saunoa, who was sentenced to 6½ years’ jail for aggravated grievous bodily harm as well as several other offences.

“I'm definitely angry at him and I likely will be for a very long time… he’ll be eligible for parole in November, and I'm stuck with lifelong pain. They reckon I’ll need knee replacements before I'm 50.”

Zane says it nearly broke him when noone could tell him for months if the injuries Saunoa inflicted on him would stop him getting back to doing what he loved – helping people and catching bad guys.

“I really enjoy policing. I've always loved the job… So when I finally did get back out there, back in the car and doing some 3Ts, going to jobs and arming up for a few of them, I thought ‘yeah, it was worth it’… I like to think that I got stronger from the experience.”

After fighting his way back to the frontline, Zane has another big goal: “My big thing is I want to do a year on PST, get back on that horse, prove to myself that I can still do the job… then move to CIB type stuff. I just hope that I can find something in the investigation space that I love doing as much as I love PST. I can't believe they pay me to do it. It’s seriously the front seat to the best show on earth.”


A video about Zane's story is available now on the new Road Policing hub through TenOne.

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