Constable Matthew Hunt had "everything to live for".
But on June 19 everything was taken from him when he was gunned down on a West Auckland street.
And today, as the rain fell, the grief of his loss echoed across Eden Park at his final farewell.
Today the 28-year-old's funeral was held at the home of his favourite rugby team - who have dedicated the last seat he watched a game from in his honour - with his mother speaking for the first time since his slaying.
"No mother would want to be in the position I find myself today," said Diane Hunt of her only son.
"Every day, in every way, you made me so so proud to be your mum.
"We saw you Matthew ... saw behind your veil of humility and saw the calibre of the man you were destined to become."
Hunt was shot multiple times and killed during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop in Massey.
His colleague was also shot, but survived.
Since he was a child Hunt had a dream of being a policeman - but no one in his family
ever imagined that dream would become their worst nightmare.
"From a very young age Matthew expressed his desire to join the police, it never wavered and he found his forever family with the police - it was a perfect fit for him," said Diane Hunt.
Hunt's uncle Robert Winterbottom, Diane Hunt's brother, spoke of the moment he learned the promising young cop had been killed.
"My sister was texting my wife ... saying that an officer had been shot," he said.
"She was saying it can't be Matt, they would have told me by now ... and then the texts
stopped and the phone started ringing, and we knew it was Matt."
Winterbottom and his wife Wendy returned to New Zealand alongside Hunt's sister Ellie when they learned of his death.
They had to spend 14 days in managed isolation as per the Covid-19 border restriction rules.
"Matt was too young to go. He won't get married or have children or grow old but what he does have now is immortality," said Winterbottom.
"The 33rd serving police officer to lose his life serving New Zealand will never be forgotten.
"MHIH84- rest in peace, Matt we love you."
Before his family paid tribute, Hunt's body was escorted to Eden Park for his funeral by a police motorcade.
His coffin, draped in a police flag and adorned with white lilies, was carried in by his close friends.
The service itself is private at the request of the 28-year-old's family. But they gave the Herald permission to livestream it.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the service alongside Police Minister Stuart Nash, Police Association President Chris Cahill and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and other members of his executive were also in attendance, with hundreds of uniformed police officer and the Eagle helicopter hovering overhead.
Tributes for Constable Hunt were led by Commissioner Andrew Coster.
"It is a privilege to be here with you today, to pay tribute," he said.
"Matt's memory is front of mind for us all ... together we grieve with you, we share your loss, we will never forget Matt.
"We won't forget that he loved his job, serving his community.
"Matt's death touched all New Zealanders."
Coster said Hunt made the "ultimate sacrifice".
"He lived police values, he seized the opportunities to serve his community and make a difference," Coster said, almost breaking down in tears.
He said policing was "inherently dangerous" due to the unexpected element of the job.
"We are appalled by the taking of a young life in the sort of circumstances that keep us
awake at night," he said.
Coster paid tribute to Hunt's colleague who was also shot on the day.
"I commend you for your bravery and for doing all that you could in that horrendous
situation," he said.
He said all 14,000 police "held their arms out" to the Hunt family.
"We will continue to honour his life ... And we will honour it for generations to come… with the courage and compassion that Matt showed as he tried to build a safer country.
"Constable Matthew Hunt, thank you for your service - may you rest in peace," Coster finished.
The second person to speak was Sergeant Dean Taylor - Hunt's supervisor for the two years he spent working from the Orewa police station.
Hunt moved from Orewa to work for the Waitemata Road Policing Team just weeks before his death.
He outlined Hunt's career, which started in March 2018 when he graduated from Police College.
Taylor was visibly upset reading his tribute.
"Matt was a junior member of the team, who stood out," he said.
"Matt was a humble guy and wouldn't want this fuss - however on this occasion Matt, you deserve this fuss.
"Matt was calm, methodical and eager to learn. He made good decisions and was a good communicator.
"He was eager to hone his skills so when the time was right he could commence his detective training.'
Taylor said "nothing fazed" Hunt and he gave him increasingly challenging tasks to help him upskill.
"He spoke to me more and more of wanting to progress his career," he said.
"He was very excited about his plan, and so was I."
That plan was to work for the booze bus team to upskill and fast track his route to the CIB.
"Matt was a very hard-working officer ... he managed his time well," Taylor said.
"He always delivered a high standard of work."
Hunt would always fine tune and perfect his assessments to make sure they were up to a high standard.
Taylor said Hunt never had to use tactical options.
"He could often negotiate with people, he never used the weapons we carry on us - if he
had to use force it was only minimal arm restraining techniques," he said.
"Humble, caring and proud, he made an impression on all who met him.
"He was so proud to wear the uniform.
"Matt, rest in peace - I've got the team - you will not be forgotten."
Ellie Hunt said she treasured her final memories with her brother.
"My most fond memories of Matt are the most recent ones," said his sister.
She recalled spending time with him last year when she returned from overseas to visit their sick grandmother.
Hunt let his younger sister drive back to Auckland afterwards - feeling "chuffed" as he never usually allowed her to get behind the wheel.
"I hadn't seen Matt in months so through the hours of driving home we just reconnected and talked about day-to-day life," she said.
"It sounds so simple but it really meant so much."
Ellie Hunt finished her tribute by reading a poem - His Journey's Just Begun by Ellen Brenneman.
"For nothing loved is ever lost -and he was loved so much," the last line reads.
"You will be deeply missed Matt, all my love."
A candle was lit before the ceremony began just after 11am.
"Some people just can't help making a difference in our lives, by simply being who they are - they make the world a little brighter," said celebrant Kerry-Ann Stanton.
"And when they're gone, we realise how lucky we are to have known Matt.
"The world has lost a very special person."
She said each person at the service had been touched by Hunt's death - and countless others watching the livestream.
She also acknowledged the courage of Hunt's family for their bravery in deciding to share the service and his farewell.
She said the journey of recognising the tragic loss of a young man was "painful".
"Matt lived his life with purpose ... today is an opportunity for those who knew and loved Matt to share their memories," Stanton continued.
Born in July 1991, Hunt was raised on the Hibiscus Coast and attended local schools.
Stanton said he made friendships there with people who became his extended family - his brothers and sisters.
She spoke of his love of sport, his "methodical" planning and the full and rich life he was living.
He was ready to make the most of the opportunities in front of him.
"He was empathetic, a multi-faceted young man at the cusp of the next phase of adulthood," she said.
However that future was "cut off".
Friends pay tribute to their 'brother'
Shane MacLennan said he had known Hunt since they were children and considered him a brother.
"I have a huge number of memories of Matt," he said.
MacLennan said Hunt was "goofy" but a "genuinely nice kid.
"And that never changed," he said.
"Matt had this ability to just make connections with people so easily ... which was amazing considering he was an introvert."
Hunt was MacLennan's best man at his wedding and lived with him and his wife later.
He last saw Hunt on March 15.
"Matt you were an outstanding friend, one of the best ... you were taken too soon ... you will never be replaced, never be forgotten ... love you brother," he finished.
Regan Green said Hunt was more like a brother than a friend.
The pair travelled the world together and shared many memories, including attending games of rugby at Eden Park, which made the funeral venue all the more special.
"Matt was so humble and understated his whole life ... and without any effort touched so many lives," he said.
"He was an intelligent, happy and determined man who was all in once he had his mind set on something."
Green, at times struggling to contain his emotions, said Hunt "really was a part of my family".
"My family considered Matt as another brother and son and Matt, they loved you very much.
"Losing Matt has left us sad, angry, confused, but mostly heartbroken.
"We promise not to cry over you for too much longer, because we know you would not want that."
Green promised Hunt he would follow his lead and push for more in life.
"We're going to miss you forever, we love you Matt," he said.
Sam Swaffield said when he heard the news an officer had been shot he was prepared to grieve for the nation.
But he never imagined he would be grieving for his best mate, his brother.
He has struggled to comprehend his loss and said he was not ready to say goodbye.
"No 28-year-old should have to speak at his best mate's funeral," he said.
"It is the gap left by the memories we were yet to make that will break my heart forever."
"Everyone got the Matt they needed for them, so in everyone's eyes they got the perfect Matt ... I got a supportive, loyal and encouraging friend."
Swaffield said Hunt was a "calculated foundation builder" who did everything with precision.
"At 28 Matt was just coming out of building the perfect foundation for himself ... mate, the places you were going to go ... our journey through life will be a lonelier one, but you will be with us," he said.
"Every pint in the sun, every rugby game ... every sunset, every clear sky night, every shooting star and every time the rain breaks just when we need it to.
"Matt, wherever you have gone you have taken a piece of us with you ... wherever we go in the future, we will take a piece of you with us."
After the service, Hunt's coffin draped with a police flag, was carried out to the main field of Eden Park by police pallbearers, following a lone police piper.
As the Eagle helicopter circled above, the coffin was placed on a plinth out on Eden Park as his colleagues - wearing black armbands and some choking back emotion - performed the flag ceremony.
They precisely folded the fabric that has been atop Hunt's casket for presentation to Hunt's family by Commissioner Andrew Coster.
His colleagues then performed a powerful haka in his honour, their grief echoing and rumbling through Eden Park.
Then, as sombre silence resumed, Hunt was lifted into back of the hearse and driven through a full guard of honour - again led by the piper, a police car with flashing lights, flag bearers and fully uniformed police dogs.
His colleagues who walked alongside the car, their gloved white hands on the car, guiding their fallen brother away.
His family and close friends walked behind him on his final formal journey as a police officer.
As the rain poured on Auckland, Matthew Dennis Hunt was finally farewelled by all those who knew and loved him.
Police protocols for the service
While Hunt's funeral was a private service, his family asked for police to assist with a number of formal and ceremonial aspects.
Police provided the Herald with details of those this morning.
"Police staff in attendance will be in their formal attire which consists of tunics and forage caps," they said.
"A police formal escort will accompany the hearse as the body of Constable Hunt is carried through a guard of honour.
"The police will include motorbikes, a police car, a piper from the Auckland Police Pipe band, two police dogs, and a colour party carrying the New Zealand and police flags."
Other formal aspects include:
• Flag folding ceremony: an official flag folding ceremony will be held where the Commissioner will present the NZ Police flag to the family of Constable Hunt. The ceremonial folding of the flag is a symbolic tradition which stems from military funerals and has been adopted by numerous police authorities around the world for funeral services involving a fallen police officer.
• Police haka: The name of the haka is "Ko Te Uru Pounamu". Traditionally haka was used and performed by tribal war parties at the front line of battle. Today the haka is performed at different occasions to honour loved ones and show police respect to friends and family members.
• Guard of honour: A long-standing tradition where police officers form two lines, forming a path for the hearse and the family of the deceased as the hearse takes away the body of Constable Hunt. The hearse will be escorted by the police bearer party and members of the ceremonial flag team. It's an opportunity for police officers to pay their last respects to the officer. All police funerals include this tradition, which typically concludes the formalities.
"This will not affect policing services across Auckland and police have worked hard to ensure adequate staffing rosters are in place," said a spokesperson.
A man and woman have been charged in relation to Hunt's death and the attempted murder of a second officer.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges and will go on trial next year.
Their names are currently suppressed.