Mark "Hoff" Andrews was always destined for a career in uniform — it was just a question of which one.

As a teenager he wore the distinctive yellow and red uniform of a surf lifeguard, followed by protective volunteer firefighting kit, before eventually donning the blue uniform of the New Zealand police.

Flying planes could have been another career option for Andrews, who also had his commercial pilots licence.

On Thursday, the 35-year-old Whangārei policeman, with nearly 14 years on the thin blue line, will wear his number one police uniform for the last time when he is laid to rest and given a full police farewell.

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Andrews died suddenly last Friday while en route in an ambulance from his home to Whangārei Hospital after feeling unwell.

As a mark of respect the flag outside the central city police station had since been flying at half mast.

"Hoff", as he was shortly nicknamed after joining the police force because of his curly hair, lifesaving experience and resemblance to television show Baywatch superstar David Hasselhoff, served all of his time on the beat out of Whangārei station after joining as a 22-year-old.

Colleague Senior Constable Conan Brown said Andrews would be remembered for his passion for policing, his calmness under pressure and his love for gadgets.

"As a Sergeant he was very capable but firm. I was his best mate and he only had to give me a look and I knew where I stood. I never saw him angry, never heard him raise his voice," Brown said.

"He was respected and he loved being out there catching crooks. He was down to earth, hated the limelight and was very humble, preferring to push his staff forward for accolades."

Andrews reached the rank of Acting Senior Sergeant and was transitioning into more leadership roles. He had also been involved in the annual cannabis operations for 10 years spotting the illegal crop from the fixed-wing aircraft.

Andrews was dedicated to his wife Jenn and their son Carter, Brown said.

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Jenn remembers first meeting Andrews at Tower Aviation at Onerahi Airport when they were both training to be pilots and thinking he wasn't bad looking.

They both qualified, with Andrews getting a commercial licence.

Whangarei Heads lifeguards Mark Andrews, front, and Tai Kahn fly through the Ocean Beach surf in 2003. Photo / Tania Webb
Whangarei Heads lifeguards Mark Andrews, front, and Tai Kahn fly through the Ocean Beach surf in 2003. Photo / Tania Webb

Together they shared many flights in Northland skies and further afield. It was Jenn who suggested Andrews take up a policing career and even did training runs with him to help him pass the entry fitness test.

She recalled telling him to push through the pain and it was just shin splints, when in fact his shins were fractured. She still feels guilty about that.

They got engaged when Andrews was at police college, later married and had son Carter, now 6 years old.

"He never brought his police work home with him, he was able to compartmentalise that. He was very, very thoughtful, dependable and an amazing dad."

Margaret remembers her son being very determined as a child and a person who was very black and white. While he never gave his parents any trouble, he definitely knew how to push buttons, she said.

Andrews moved from Rotorua to Whangārei with his parents and brother Dane when his father, Trevor Andrews, got a promotion in the Fire Service and eventually became Northland region manager.

It was then that Muriwhenua Far North area commander Wipari Henwood first met Andrews, who had joined the volunteer brigade at the Whangārei station as a teenager.

"The best description I could give to his frame would be a coat hanger. He was a pretty skinny, tall Pakeha guy. He filled out that frame as he developed."

Henwood said in the first training session Andrews was unable to unroll the heaviest of the hoses and was disappointed. However he went away, practised and at the next training session was successful in the task.

"That was him, he would work away in the background and get it right ... he wasn't boastful, just hardworking."

Henwood said that later on when Andrews was a policeman it was pleasure to work with him at emergency jobs.

"He had an appreciation of both sides and spoke both the police and fire languages. I think it really strengthened the bond that we have between the Fire Service and police."

The funeral is at Newberrys Funeral Home, Whangārei, at 11am, on Thursday.