No place like Houhora


The arrival of Senior Constable Tracee Knowler at Houhora last week as the new resident police officer was something of a homecoming.

Tracee was born in Kaitaia, the daughter of Irene (nee Carey), now living at Cable Bay, and the late Darrell Knowler, but spent much of her childhood in Papua New Guinea, where her father worked.

She returned to Kaitaia to complete her secondary education at Kaitaia College.

"Dad also worked on the road from Houhora to the Cape in the '70s and Mum and us kids used to go up to the Cape for holidays, so the people on the peninsula are just about whanau," she said.

She had certainly been welcomed to Houhora like a longstanding friend, taking delivery of potatoes, feijoas, smoked kingfish, flowers and hot muffins in her first few days there, and children from the nearby school had already begun calling in for tours of the police station.

Tracee turned her hand to banking, clerical and courier work, lifeguard and nanny, and had a year's OE in Britain and Europe, before she joined the police in 1996.

Apart from a brief initial stint in New Plymouth, her entire career had been spent in Kaitaia, with five years in uniform and the last 11 with the CIB, more recently as a detective with the Child Protection Team.

She was twice deployed as an adviser and mentor with the Bougainville Community Police in Papua New Guinea, in an area recovering from a brutal civil war, during which time she held the rank of inspector.

Dealing with serious offending as a detective had been fulfilling, she said. Underlying it all was a passion for the work and an acknowledgment that trust and respect must be earned.

She was looking forward to the challenges of the Far North and getting involved in more of a community-style policing than she had encountered while dealing with serious crime.

She wouldn't be cutting her plain clothes links entirely.

A few of her files from Kaitaia had made the trip to Houhora with her and would be worked on.

"I'm hoping people will flag me down and say hello," she said, although it's possible that if their rego is out of date they might not have to worry about the wave.

- Northern Advocate

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