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Banding together

Wristbands with a heartfelt message embossed on them have raised more than $20,000 for the family of slain police officer Constable Matthew Hunt and for his injured colleague.

The initiative came from Auckland City’s Detective Constable Haika Urlich. Although she didn’t know Matt personally, she says the shocking killing of a fellow officer had affected everyone. “It was just so horrific, as well as thinking it could have been any one of us.”

She felt compelled to do something to commemorate the tragedy and help the affected families.

After sounding out the idea of wristbands on Facebook, and receiving an enthusiastic response, Haika contacted North Shore-based company Taggs-R-Us to make the blue-striped bands with this message on the inside: “A family born not from a bloodline, but bonded in life by a blue one.”

The $5 wristbands were sold through the Munro Canteen at the Police College and online at thecopshop.nz.

An initial run of 7000 sold out in days. Many staff wore them when they attended Matt’s funeral at Eden Park on July 9. “When I looked down the line, I saw so many of the wristbands. I never thought the reaction would be so big.”

A second run of 4000 has also sold out.

The response has been encouraging, Haika says. “It really says a lot about people supporting one another. It’s really helped us bond.”

She’s hoping someone else might step up to take over distributing the wristbands and make sure more are made. Based on her experience of the willingness of police to support each other, she says she’s confident it will happen.

The funds raised will be distributed through the Police and Families Charitable Trust.

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