"Fearless" Matiu Ratana's family say they are devastated by his tragic death as it is also revealed he helped guard Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and a former Prime Minister.
The hugely popular and respected 54-year-old London police officer also once survived a nearby bombing by dissident group, the Irish Republican Army.
Back in New Zealand, Ratana also has historic ties. He is a grandson of Iriaka Ratana, the first Māori woman MP, and great-great grandson of Ratana Church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.
He also spent five years serving with the NZ Police force in Auckland.
The London Metropolitan Police Sergeant - also known as Matt - was shot and killed while on duty overnight, by a suspect being detained at Croydon Custody Centre in South London.
Police rang Ratana's sister in New Zealand in the early hours of this morning to inform his family.
"Everyone is really devastated to hear the news he has passed," Ratana's cousin, Adrian Rurawhe - who is the Labour MP for the Te Tai Hauāuru electorate - told the Herald.
"He was really proud to be a police officer, he was also really proud to be Māori from New Zealand."
Tributes have poured in for the dedicated officer.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted Ratana's bravery and sacrifice would never be forgotten.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also passed on their sympathy to his family.
London's Metropolitan Police and NZ Police praised him as a top cop: "big in stature and big-hearted, a friendly, capable police officer".
His dedication to the job was highlighted by some of the roles he performed.
Joining London's Metropolitan Police two years after moving to the UK in 1989, he was once just 300m from an IRA bomb that exploded outside the British Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing St in 1992, the UK's Mirror media outlet reported.
He also acted as a protection officer for Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and former Prime Minister John Major, the outlet said.
Rurawhe described Ratana as "fearless".
"He wasn't a big risk taker, but he wasn't afraid to challenge the norm," Rurawhe said.
"He was never afraid to ask why, he was always wanting to find out more and learn about who we are."
"We all go through a journey of discovery, especially those of us that didn't grow up with Te Reo, but he was so proud of being Māori."
Born to a Scottish mother and Māori father, Ratana was the eldest child of an extended whānau of stepbrothers and stepsisters.
"He had a leadership role within the whānau and him and I often spoke about our responsibilities within our whānau," Rurawhe said.
"He was really proud to be from Ratana."
He was also sports mad, growing up in Palmerston North and studying at Palmerston North Boys' High from 1980 to 1985.
"He was a really good sportsman, played tennis rugby, did everything," Rurawhe said.
"He was still playing rugby up until his 40s - mind you he was really fit."
Palmerston North Boys' High School said Ratana played for its 1st XI football team in 1985.
"Matt was a school prefect, an outstanding tennis player, the school tennis champion in1985, and a Manawatū tennis representative," it said.
He then attended the University of Otago where he played for Ravensbourne RFC.
In 1989, he made the move to the UK where he also had family connections.
He quickly became ingrained in the local rugby community around London, playing for top club London Irish at one point.
In recent years, he became senior coach of East Grinstead RFC, south of London, after earlier coaching its juniors.
Club members were "utterly devastated" by his death.
"Matt was an inspiring and much-loved figure at the club and there are truly no words to describe how we are feeling," club chairman Bob Marsh and president Andy Poole said on the club's Facebook page.
One friend said the former prop had helped turn East Grinstead RFC into a "winning machine".
'He was a leader amongst men, the team started winning nearly every game, it was definitely because of him, his never say die attitude to keep battling, that was just who he was and he instilled that in the team," the friend said, according to the Daily Mail.
Police colleagues were equally lavish in their praise.
"A lovely man, highly respected by officers and staff, and by the public, including suspects he arrested or dealt with in custody," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.
Community police officer Jacqueline Kufour broke down in tears while laying flowers for him, saying he was the nicest man she had ever met.
The Daily Mail reported Ratana's neighbour in south London Debbie Stobart as also calling him a "really big character".
"He was so caring, funny, everyone knew him," she said.
Ratana also worked as a police officer in New Zealand, joining the local force in 2003 as part of the British High Commission Wing, Wing 212.
NZ Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said Ratana served in Auckland City and Counties Manukau until 2008, before returning to the UK.
"While Sergeant Ratana spent most of his career in the UK, anyone who serves here will always be a part of our New Zealand Police whānau," he said.
Cousin Rurawhe said Ratana had been away from New Zealand for a long time when he returned as a police officer in 2003.
"I think that was one of the reasons he came back to do a stint here so that he could reconnect with his family," Rurawhe said.
Ratana leaves behind a partner and adult son Luke from a previous marriage.
The Daily Mail reported Ratana's partner Sue Busby had been in a relationship with the officer for four years.
Busby's sister Amanda Tessier, a community nurse, described Ratana as "a great big friendly bear of a man".
"One of the loveliest men you could meet."
Rurawhe said that although Ratana had spent most of his life in the UK, he would be sorely missed by his family back in New Zealand.
"Just talking about him makes me feel emotional," he said.