There was a poignant moment in the Napier Sailing Club today as Sam Hoyle, now Wellington District Commander, recalled the second he was told of the shooting of three of his police staff 10 years ago on the morning of May 7, 2009.
About 9.30am that fine and sunny Thursday, a police cannabis bust ended with Senior Constable Leonard Snee being shot dead by grower and heavily armed gunman Jan Molenaar, who also seriously wounded Senior Constables Grant Diver and Bruce Miller and civilian Lenny Holmwood.
On Tuesday, almost 100 mainly uniformed officers, all with careers dating back past the days of the tragedy and the two-day siege that followed, paraded before the sailing club flagpole to remember their lost colleague. They were watched by other staff, former officers, victims and families, heroes, emergency and other services representatives.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Minister of Police and Napier MP Stuart Nash, acting Napier Mayor Faye White, Tukituki MP and former Mayor of Hastings Lawrence Yule, and Police Association national president and former Napier CIB member Chris Cahill were among others marking the anniversary with what Commissioner Bush called "the police whānau".
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Also present were pupils of former Napier hills school Hukarere, who performed waiata during indoor commemorations following the parade.
On behalf of Snee's family, speaker Huia Borrell said a life in the family was taken that day and was still grieved "as if it were yesterday".
Directly to Snee's widow, Vicki, and the immediate family of the officer, she said: "To have to share the saddest moment of your life with the rest of the country was unthinkable."
Nash recalled it was with "disbelief" that he heard of the shooting of three police officers in the neighbourhood in which he had grown up.
The anniversary was a "really important day on the police calendar," Bush said, and the tragedy "probably the most difficult day" of the careers of Superintendent Hoyle and the staff who served during such the emergency.
Both officers who survived the shooting are still in the police force and were at the commemoration. Diver is in the throes of training what he expects will be his last dog on the job.
Siege-era dog Fi, who was rescued from the locked-down Chaucer Rd murder scene under the cover of darkness about 37 hours after the shooting, also returned to work, retired in 2011 and was put down four years ago.