Nine Rotorua police officers have been diagnosed with cancer in the past five years.

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said the insidious disease had taken its toll on the Rotorua police staff in the past few years and news of Detective Steve Allpress' terminal diagnosis had sent shock waves through the tight-knit team.

Despite the aggressive nature of Mr Allpress' cancer, he said he was impressed with his determination.

"You have two choices really. Either give up or you fight. I guess part of him is drawing strength from his colleagues who have been though it and have come out the other side. And him and I have spoken about that.

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"Every person in the station who has battled it, the positives they take from that when things happen to other people like Steve is they can look them in the eye and say with integrity 'I know'."

Mr Horne said Rotorua police wasn't new to dealing with horrific news, having lost six staff or their immediate family members in just six months in 2006.

"That was a really hard time as well."

Mr Horne said he couldn't be more proud of how his team was helping Mr Allpress and his family.

"They are so great. Every day on that drive to work I think about what great people I get to work with down there. I have the same thoughts when I leave the place at the end of the day."

Kelly Makiha