On the day Senior Sergeant Bryan "Spot" Smith is publicly outed as a New Year Honour recipient, he will be doing almost exactly what the born-and-bred Hawke's Bay local has done ever since he started work as a teenager in 1979: he'll be at work in Hastings.

The 58-year-old father-of-two will be extending into a 41st year the "services to the New Zealand Police and the community" for which he has now been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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He will receive the MNZM at an investiture later this year.


In the meantime, there's work to be done. He'll also work New Year's Day, just as he did Christmas Day, which he works about two out of every three years.

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Newly in the role of police Hawke's Bay Area prevention manager, effectively the other end of policing from the two years he previously had as response manager, he says the honour is a recognition of teamwork in the police.

It was something he was particularly prominent in as a member and leader of the Hawke's Bay Armed Offenders Squad and as officer in charge of the Flaxmere Community Police Centre.

In those roles he experienced two of the biggest tragedies in the police team: the fatal shootings of Flaxmere constable Glenn McKibbin in 1996 and Senior Constable Len Snee in Napier in 2009.

The son of a police dog handler, McKibbin was shot dead in a suburban Flaxmere street. The AOS became central figures in a two-month-long hunt for killer Terence Thompson, who was eventually shot in an orchard near Havelock North.

Snee, who was a Porirua constable Smith first met while a cadet at the Trentham barracks police college in 1979, was on a routine cannabis search when he was shot dead, and two other senior constables seriously injured by gunman and cannabis grower Jan Molenaar.

Smith led the AOS in the three-day siege that followed.


From police college, Smith was stationed back in Hastings. The shootings and manhunts would be parts of more than 800 operations in his time in the AOS, in command in more than 250 before vacating the leadership about four years ago.

His focus now is on a restructuring of prevention management, which includes bringing youth policing into the structure.

He headed the Youth Aid and Community Relations team in Hastings, and his Flaxmere position required him to foster links between at-risk youth and the community.

Away from the day job, he became a chairman of Hastings Boys' High School, he built strong connections with Te Aranga Marae, which opened on the fringes of Flaxmere West in 2003, and has run programmes on the marae aimed at reintegrating youth and their whānau back into school and the community.

He also coached the Havelock North Rugby Club Development team, resulting in two successful championships, and represented the police in numerous rugby sevens competitions.

As for the award, not even wife Sue seemed to be in on the secret he's had to keep since getting the letter asking him if he would accept.

"I haven't even told the family yet," he said yesterday, at work.