Tributes are flooding in for slain New Zealand-born officer killed inside a police station in the UK yesterday.
A murder investigation has since been launched into the death of Sergeant Matt Ratana, fatally shot in the chest while conducting a search and giving a Covid-19 test to the suspect.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick described Ratana, 54, as a much-loved, rugby fanatic who was a well respected leader in the community.
"As a colleague, he was big in stature and big-hearted, a friendly, capable police officer. A lovely man, highly respected by officers and staff, and by the public, including suspects he arrested or dealt with in custody."
Ratana also served police in Auckland City and Counties Manukau until 2008, before returning to the UK.
"As my counterpart Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police has expressed this morning, policing is a family," New Zealand police commissioner Andrew Coster said in a statement this morning.
"While Sergeant Ratana spent most of his career in the UK, anyone who serves here will always be a part of our New Zealand Police whānau.
"We send our condolences to his friends and family here and abroad, and his colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and across the UK who will be deeply feeling this loss today."
Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern shared her condolences on Facebook this morning, saying New Zealanders shared the sorrow felt by Matt Ratana's family.
"Incredibly sad to hear news this morning that a Metropolitan Police officer killed in the UK was Matiu Ratana, a former New Zealand Police officer.
"To all Matiu's whānau across the world, we share your sorrow and have all our condolences."
As well, Labour Party police spokesperson Stuart Nash said Ratana's death marked a sad day for New Zealand's police force.
National Party leader Judith Collins also took to Twitter to pay tribute to his family and former leader Simon Bridges also shared his sympathies.
Senior Constable Bryan Ward, who had worked with Ratana in New Zealand, described him as "gentle giant".
"It’s with a heavy heart that I remember Sgt Matiu ‘Matt’ Ratana, 54, Metropolitan Police Service. I worked with Matt in the @nzpolice he was truly a gentle giant - Rest easy brother."
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also took to social media to share his sympathies.
"Sgt Matt Ratana and his family, friends and loved ones are in the hearts of Londoners across out city tonight."
The 54-year-old had been described as a well-respected member of the community, known for his passion of rugby.
Ratana's local team East Grinstead, where he had been the head coach, has been left "utterly devastated".
Club chairman Bob Marsh and President Andy Poole shared in a statement that it will take some time for the rugby community to comprehend what has happened.
"Matt was an inspiring and much-loved figure at the club and there are truly no words to describe how we are feeling."
Palmerston North Boys' High School also paid tribute to their former student, noting his contributions as a school prefect and his exceptional tennis skills.
"It's with great sadness we acknowledge the death of old boy Matt Ratana in London this morning... Matt was a school prefect, an outstanding tennis player, the school tennis champion in 1985 and a Manawatu tennis representative.
"Our thoughts and condolences go out to Matt's family and friends in this terribly sad time."