Kaeo community cop Richard Avery is trading policing for a new start as an apprentice after more than six years as the town's sole-charge constable.
Mr Avery, who grew up and was schooled in Kaeo, took on the job in May 2011. His last day was yesterday.
''It's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It's an awesome community and they've been really supportive,'' he said. ''It's a demanding role though, you're pretty much a fixer for any incident that happens.''
Incidents Mr Avery has dealt with range from the hilarious — such as trying to locate the owners of a turtle found wandering on a farm — to the tragic — such as family violence and fatal crashes in which he knew the victims. There were also plenty of floods, though the worst he saw were in his first year on the beat.
Highlights included working with Whangaroa College youth and taking them on Blue Light camps in Auckland and Lonsdale Park, and helping then college student Charlotte Morunga in her campaign for a liquor ban in Kaeo.
He had enjoyed being an iwi liaison officer on Waitangi Day, with its opportunities to interact with other Maori and encourage new recruits.
Mr Avery was also involved, along with local businesses and the district council, in getting CCTV cameras installed, giving the town extra security and reassurance.
His philosophy was to ''treat others how you would like to be treated'', he said.
Mr Avery started his working life as a panel beating apprentice. He then joined the Navy, drove trucks, and joined the police, inspired by former Kaeo policemen Jim Bratty and the late Paddy Whiu.
''It was because of Jim Bratty and the way he supported youth in a little town like Kaeo. He was an awesome role model.''
He started policing in Auckland central followed by eight years in Rodney. When his ''dream job'' came up in Kaeo, he jumped at it.
While he still enjoyed policing he wanted a change of career and his own business. There were also family reasons for the move to Auckland.
His plan was to do another apprenticeship in a building-related trade.
''It's never too late to learn,'' the 48-year-old said.
Ultimately he hoped to come back to Kaeo to set up a business and take on an apprentice from the college.
The Kaeo community organised a surprise farewell for Mr Avery at the fire station on Thursday evening.
A temporary constable will be appointed to Kaeo to cover the busy summer period. Recruiting for a permanent replacement is under way.