When long-time Napier community policeman Senior Constable Shane Gibson retired last week after 43 years in uniform he just had to give something back.
"You have to give all the gear back" he said, as the 61-year-old put together the shirts, trou' and other items accrued over the years.
How many shirts? "Thirty to 40," he says. "Some of them have never been worn."
"It's different," he says, trying to work out what else there is apart from work, family, and golf. "It feels a bit like I'm on holiday."
By midweek it's all done, but having relieved himself of the wardrobe of attachment, there's still a thread of the notion he will find it difficult to actually leave.
He now takes on 20 hours in the role of arms officer, doing all the bits and pieces in working out whether people who want guns should be able to have them.
More to the point, it is, as the career of a suburban legend of policing shows, all about meeting people.
The career has, thus, gone in three stages: starting at the Trentham Barrack police college in January 1978, after waiting a year to be old enough; a "Wellington boy" applying for and getting a job in Napier in 1985; and applying for the Marewa job in Napier's
community policing team about 20 years ago.
The move to Napier was the biggie. It came after he'd spent some time in the area in the hunt for teenaged schoolgirl Kirsa Jensen, who has been missing since September 1, 1983, and presumed dead.
Subsequently, he applied for the first job that became available in Hawke's Bay, and there weren't many. Hawke's Bay has had a long-standing reputation as a destination of choice for police staff, and many have come, served just as long, and likewise resisted the temptation to chase higher rank around the rest of the country.
It wasn't, of course, all glamour, for he did spend 17 years in the Armed offender Squad, and was among those in the 1995 manhunt looking for the killer of Flaxmere Constable Glenn McKibbin – leaping out of Air Force Iroquois lost its appeal after a while, as did hiding in trees, and sitting in the rain in Gwavas Forest in the middle of the night – "when he wasn't even there!"
It brings him to the point of what one does as a policeman, whether it be in the grip of potential danger, or merely explaining to people on the footpaths of regular stroll the Marewa Village Shopping Centre, afflicted over the last five years by a type of customer he hadn't really encountered much in the rest of his career, the street-beggar who has little
compunction about asking strangers for money.
"I don't make the rules," he recalls saying. "I might not like them, but if it's the law my job is to enforce it."
"Gibbo" – as he is known – missed the biggest challenge of all, the policing of the Springbok Tour in 1981, while playing a bit of lower-level cricket and rugby during an OE in the UK.
He returned to Wellington and the inquiry office dealing with a range of work from warrants and road deaths, and says he has loved the opportunity to work closely with the community.
At close to two metres tall, he was a good fit in the Marist lineout when he made his way to Hawke's Bay, making it simple to settle in.
He told police magazine Ten-One: "Marewa is a very diverse community, what you see is what you get. I've met some great people, got to know them and their families and built strong relationships."
He has thus worked closely with Government and community organisations, including in the Marewa community, Housing New Zealand (Kainga Ora), Victim Support and Neighbourhood Support. He was liaison, then chairman, of the local Victim Support Group and is on the Napier Neighbourhood Support Committee, a position he will continue to hold after his retirement.
He says Hawke's Bay became home for he and his family a long time ago. The children are adults, his son now a builder in Australia and daughter studying law at Auckland University.
His wife, he reckons, is listing the extra jobs that can be done, some of which has to work around the golf, at which he did have a handicap down to "single-figures", and he's still on the team for the New Zealand Police Golf Champs in Christchurch later this year.