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'He was really proud to be Māori' – Slain police officer had strong NZ roots despite living most of life in UK

Slain New Zealand-born UK police officer Matiu "Matt" Ratana may have left New Zealand in 1989, his Kiwi connections remained strong.

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Sergeant Matt Ratana grew up in NZ and he never forgot it. Source: 1 NEWS

“He was really proud to be Māori from New Zealand,” Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe said.

Sergeant Ratana, 54, was fatally shot inside a London police station while detaining a 23-year-old man yesterday. 

The officer was the great-grandson of Ratana Church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana and the grandson of Iriaka Ratana, New Zealand’s first Māori female MP.

He was a stand-out student at Palmerston North Boys high school, where he was a prefect. The sports junkie was also the school’s tennis champion in 1985, and in the first XI football team.

Palmerston North Boys high school's David Bovey described the Metropolitan Police officer as a “top man”.

“When he was last in New Zealand, he popped into school here and did a catchup with some of those teachers and had a look around,” Bovey said.

“Really enthusiastic, really supportive old boy and really proud of his association with the school.”

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He returned to New Zealand from the UK in 2003, where he served as part of the first British High Commission wing based in Auckland.

“It was really a time for him to discover our whānau history, his genealogy,” Wurawhe said.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster today said while Ratana “spent most of his career overseas, anyone who serves here will always be a part of our New Zealand Police whānau.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared her “incredible sadness” in a post on social media today, where she told his family, “We all share your sorrow and have all our condolences.”

Rurawhe said his loved ones will “remember him with fondness and love and aroha.”

“Even though he went away from Aotearoa, that we still stayed connected and we’re really proud.”