Working for the community: Wayne Hunter

By Kiri Gillespie

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Sergeant Wayne Hunter. Photo / Joel Ford
Sergeant Wayne Hunter. Photo / Joel Ford

This week's newsmaker is Sergeant Wayne Hunter from the Western Bay of Plenty road policing unit who is heading a crackdown on speeding and cyclists not wearing helmets.

1 Tell us a little about yourself.

I am married to Tracey and have four boys aged 12, 15, 17 and 19. I was born in Katikati and have worked at Te Kuiti, Auckland and South Auckland before transferring to Tauranga in 1980. I am currently a sergeant in the road policing team.

2 What or who inspired you to become a police officer?

When I left school I was in the Post Office mail sorting office, which was then in Spring St, Tauranga, and this policeman used to come in every morning at 6am and have a long tea break. I thought that this was the type of job for me so went to the police station and signed up.

3 How long have you been doing it for now?

On the 26th of January this year, I will have done 37 years.

4 What are some of the craziest things you've seen on the job?

I recall attending a domestic and, while I was talking to the husband, his wife smacked him over the head with a frying pan while giving him his pedigree. I was so stunned that all I could say was 'I bet that hurt'. I was giving a speeding ticket to a female recently and she was crying, saying she didn't know how she was going to pay for it but as I continued writing out the ticket her young son sitting in the back piped up saying, "you're wrong mum, crying doesn't always get you off tickets like you said to aunty".

5 What is the toughest part of the job and how do you push through it?

I dread having to knock on someone's door to tell them someone close to them has died. No matter how many times you have had to do this, it does not get easier and does really affect you if you let it. I tend to not try and over-analyse the situation and try to forget about it and think about positive things. It is these occasions that I think about my own family and feel grateful for what I have.

6 What is the most rewarding part of the job?

Knowing that I can make a difference to my community just by being there when needed. I really appreciate the occasional letters I get from someone I have helped as it makes me feel I am appreciated.

7 How do you balance your professional life with your personal life?

I have a pretty complicated personal life as my youngest suffers from a serious illness and spends a lot of time in either Tauranga or Starship hospitals. There are always meetings with specialists about treatments and his ongoing care but I am fortunate that my wife shoulders most of this so I don't need to miss work. We make this work by having respite care once a month for a weekend and we also try to get to the movies once a week.

8 What hobbies/activities do you like to do when you're not working?

I used to do a lot of fishing but now because of my son I don't have much time for anything else.

9 As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What every boy wanted to be and that was a fireman.

10 What is your pet peeve when it comes to drivers' bad habits?

Going through red lights.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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