John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bay policeman's name added to Memorial Wall

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The name of Constable Louis Hekenui Bidois has been added to the New Zealand Police Memorial Wall. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The name of Constable Louis Hekenui Bidois has been added to the New Zealand Police Memorial Wall. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A former Bay of Plenty policeman had his name added to the New Zealand Police Memorial Wall today to commemorate officers who died from injuries inflicted in the course of their duties.

Constable Louis Hekenui Bidois, one of the first fulltime Maori policemen of the modern era, was born in Te Puna.

He was struck with a bottle and kicked while attempting to take two drunken men into custody at the Eastern Bay of Plenty town of Te Whaiti in 1949, and died six years later from the brain injury suffered in the attack.

His many feats of endurance as a policeman included finding and carrying famous New Zealand artist Rei Hamon to safety out of the bush after Mr Hamon became very sick with pneumonia. He carried him on his back for nearly 7km to the nearest town. His wife Mere then cared for the artist until he recovered.

Family members who attended the ceremony at the Police College in Porirua included his son and Ngati Ranginui elder, Colin Bidois.

He recalled how the challenges and difficulties faced by his father led to him adopting a strategy that was the forerunner of today's family group conferences and whanau hui.

"It was, and is, the natural Maori process," Mr Bidois said.

Research showed that during his 15 years of service in and around the Urewera country, fewer than 15 people were jailed and taken to Rotorua for prosecution. Part of his success was seeking the cooperation of Maori elders from Tuhoe and Ngati Manawa in helping to deal with bad behaviour.

Mr Bidois said his father's health went downhill soon after he was whacked over the head. He began to suffer headaches and his general health and strength gradually deteriorated.

The assault happened after Constable Bidois had spent 14 years in sole charge of an area that stretched from Rainbow Mountain, across the Kaingaroa Plains to Murupara, Galatea and Waiohau, and into the Urewera country including Te Whaiti and Minginui.

Mr Bidois said his father was a raw recruit when he was posted as the sole charge policeman because police could not find anyone to fill the vacancy.

Constable Bidois' name was one of three plaques added to the Roll of Honour today. They were all officers who died later as a result of injuries, rather than police or traffic officers who were slain immediately.

Constable Bidois will also be honoured tomorrow at the Bay of Plenty Police Remembrance Day ceremony being held at the Rotorua Lakes Council building, starting at 11am.

Remembrance Day also honoured serving police staff who had died over the past year and retired staff who had passed away.

Constable Bidois finished his schooling at Te Puna aged 14 to seek work. This was during a time when unemployment among Maori was more than 20 per cent.

After working on farms, the Te Puna Quarry, fishing and the bush, he was persuaded at the age of 37 to become a policeman. He went through five weeks of intensive training and in June 1935 his wife and three children arrived at Te Whaiti.

Nearly a year after the attack, Constable Bidois was transferred to Rotorua on permanent sick leave and he retired in 1953.

Louis Hekenui Bidois
- Born Te Puna 1898
- Attacked 1949 at Te Whaiti
- Died Rotorua 1955

- Bay of Plenty Times

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