Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne is to retire at the end of the year. He talks exclusively to Kelly Makiha about why he is leaving the police after 36 years.

Inspector Bruce Horne is known for his long pauses when you ask him a question.

While you might think it's a cunning police tactic, he says it's to ensure he gives the right answer.

"I honestly don't know I am doing it," he told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday. But ask him if his retirement announcement yesterday was linked to recent controversy over a driving incident and he is quick to respond "no".


The Rotorua police area commander for more than 13 years said he had been discussing the decision to retire with his wife, Dee, for the past 12 months.

He and his family had fallen in love with Rotorua and Mr Horne said they wanted to stay here. However, his next step in the police would have meant a move out of the city, something he was not prepared to do.

"I can't be the Rotorua police area commander forever.

"We wanted to stay here. People have just been so supportive of us and Rotorua is such a beautiful place to live. We just love it."

Mr Horne made headlines last month after it was revealed he had been involved in a driving incident. Police management confirmed he was issued an infringement offence notice relating to a driving issue in June while driving a police vehicle and the matter was subject to an ongoing process.

While Mr Horne said yesterday he didn't want to comment on the incident, he was realistic people who didn't know him might think his retirement was linked to it.

"I got a ticket. I am dealing with that in the same way more than a million New Zealanders do."

Mr Horne said the support he had received since then had reaffirmed why he wanted to stay in Rotorua.

The 55-year-old said it was a tough call to retire.

"If you are going to start a second career or do something different then now is the time. I'm too young to stop work completely."

Mr Horne will remain until December 31 to see out some community projects but Inspector Steve Bullock will become the acting area commander from Monday while the permanent role is advertised.

In a statement, Bay of Plenty District Commander Andy McGregor thanked Mr Horne for his many dedicated years.

"Bruce has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, including more than 13 years in Rotorua, and we wish him and his family all the best with his retirement.

"I'd also like to acknowledge the work Bruce has done to make Rotorua a better and safer place for all, including his efforts with local iwi and other community providers to both reduce the impact of family violence, and to improve police service to the victims of family violence," Mr McGregor said.

When Mr Horne started in his role in July 2003, it was on the cusp of the Commission of Inquiry, which was ordered following police pack rape allegations from the 1980s by Rotorua woman Louise Nicholas.

"It was really apparent there were some hurt people around and some things needed fixing.

"It was all of a bit of a puzzle for me ... There were really good people trying to do the right thing and some people who had been pretty unprofessional and they had influence over some people."

Mr Horne said the biggest challenges he had come across involved people's egos.

"You find yourself in a power struggle and a personal challenge for me was no one knew me here and let's face it, I'm a bit different. Some people tell me I'm quirky ... They were thinking 'who was this guy from Wellington who wants to come in and change everything'?"

As Mr Horne looks to the future, he said he wasn't sure what his next job would be.

"I am very committed to Rotorua and hope that I will be able to continue to serve this community in some way."

Mr Horne said one of the defining highlights had been the ongoing support from the local community, and particularly from local staff.

"I could sit you here all day and tell you about the efforts Rotorua police staff have gone to to make a difference.

"The results they achieve on a daily basis are incredible and they do not receive enough recognition for the fantastic work they do. They are a tight and supportive group who work together well and that is one of the keys to their success."

He said although he might be leaving the police, his commitment to the community and staff remained.

"I look forward to continuing to support them in some capacity in the future."

Meanwhile, community leaders have wished Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne well in his retirement.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said Mr Horne had made a significant contribution to the Rotorua community and had built a hard-working and committed culture among the Rotorua police team.

"Under his watch we have seen significant progress in tackling crime and crashes, and an extraordinary personal commitment to improving the safety and wellbeing of the local community."

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said she had a positive working relationship with Mr Horne.

"I'm pleased he is staying on in Rotorua and we wish him well for the future," she said.

Mana Social Services founding director Maxine Rennie, who has worked for more than 35 years in social services in Rotorua, said she had had an inclusive working relationship with the Rotorua police under Mr Horne.

"Because of the significant amount of family violence incidents involving Maori, we really wanted to work more closely with police in those areas, and Bruce is also very interested in and committed to this area and it gave us that pathway.

"He has worked tirelessly in this community to raise awareness of the serious harm being done to women and children, and he has worked closely with iwi to develop strategies to achieve better outcomes in this area."

She said it was a "sad loss to iwi".

"We value the openness and honesty we have had with him. We wish him and his family all the best for the future and thank him for everything he has done iwi over the past 13 years."

Mokoia Community Association manager Leigh Richards-Ward said Mr Horne had a heart and understanding of complex inter-generational issues, in particular family violence.

"He has been proactive in working with us to find solutions and that is something we will miss greatly."

Inspector Bruce Horne facts and career highlights:
■13 years as Rotorua police area commander
■Single-handedly capturing three armed robbers while a patrol constable in Porirua (for which he was presented a Commissioner's Gold Merit Award)
■Six years with the Wellington Drug Squad
■Modernising the recruit training programme
■Seeing Rotorua police develop a supportive, nurturing and values-based culture following the difficult years around the Commission of Inquiry
■Involvement with Armed Offenders Squad (AOS), as a tactical operator in Wellington and Officer in Charge of the Rotorua AOS
■Working with Rotorua iwi and community partners to improve police service response and support for family violence victims
■Graduated from the Police College in 1980 as part of the No.24 General Poanga Cadet Wing - the last wing to graduate from the old Trentham Police College
■Married to Dee, and has four children, Kelsey, 22, Jemma, 19, and twins Mclean (Mac) and Fraser, 17