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Tairawhiti's new area prevention manager speaks of his homecoming

Gisborne police recently appointed a new area prevention manager for Tairawhiti and for Inspector Darren Paki it has been a homecoming. He spoke to reporter Murray Robertson . . .

The 42-year-old, 18-year police officer came back to Gisborne in late October from Central District where he was prevention manager for northern Manawatu.

Inspector Paki had a role in the recent ship jumper drama that involved a crewman off a log ship anchored in Turanganui-a-Kiwa/ Poverty Bay.

The 27-year-old crewman from Myanmar went over the side of the ship in an immersion (survival) suit, in an effort to swim to shore and claim asylum in New Zealand. He has since been granted the right to apply for asylum in New Zealand.

The man was found drifting six kilometres south of Young Nicks Head and Inspector Paki described it as “an extraordinary survival story.”

It was the first major incident Inspector Paki had been involved in since arriving in Gisborne just a week or so earlier.

He takes up a role as second-in-command to area police commander Inspector Sam Aberahama.

He is no stranger to the Eastern District, having started his policing in Wairoa in 2003, before moving to Central where he had a number of roles including community policing, iwi liaison and officer-in-charge of the Highbury police station in Palmerston North.

Darren has also worked in the Pacific island of Tuvalu, supporting the development and implementation of their prevention strategy as part of the Pacific Police Partnership Programme.

He also spent two years in the Solomon Islands as a senior adviser for the Solomon Islands Policing Support Programme, where his wife Di remains as she completes a health and wellbeing service for the young people of Honiara, the capital of the Solomons.

Inspector Paki's whanau whakapapa to Te Whanau-a-Ruataupare in Tokomaru Bay through his mother's whanau — the Paputene (Babbington-Welsh) line and he said this connection remains a strong driving force for his whanau.

“Moving to Te Tairawhiti, and closer to the akau (coast) has been a moemoea (dream) for us,” he said.

“I'll be able to support our marae more actively . . . even mowing lawns on weekends or doing dishes at pohiri and hui.”

His wife grew up in Wairoa.

Their younger daughter Priya, 17, will join them once her final exams are over and elder daughter Maya,21, will be visiting often from her home in Wellington.

Darren said he was keen to understand exactly what the communities and iwi in Tairawhiti need and want from police.

“It is important to me that we partner with mana whenua and meet our obligations as partners to the Treaty.

“My experience also tells me that partnering with mana whenua and Maori organisations creates massive opportunities for innovation and ultimately better outcomes for communities, and that means everyone in those communities.”

Inspector Paki said taking time to speak with the people across Te Tairawhiti was important to him.

“It will give me an understanding of where they see opportunities to grow and succeed, and what they expect of me.

“My priority will be to support them in their work, because their success is everyone's collective success.”

Tairawhiti Area Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said he was really impressed with what Darren has achieved in life and policing. “The team is looking forward to what he brings to Tairawhiti from a cultural, personal and leadership perspective.

“Darren whakapapas back to Tokomaru Bay so it was great to welcome him home among his whanau on the Coast in a special powhiri in the bay late last month.

“Darren's excited about the new challenge in front of him in Tairawhiti, and our area leadership team will support him to work alongside us towards delivering ‘our business',” Inspector Aberahama said.

Inspector Paki takes over from Inspector Lincoln Sycamore who has moved to Hawke's Bay as Area Commander.

“I've only been in Gisborne for a few weeks so far, but I love it,” he said.

“(It's) the people, and especially the weather, though not so much the flooding late last week, and the easy access to the Coast, especially Tokomaru Bay,” he said.

“I am driven as a police officer to try to get the best outcomes for all whanau and all communities. To me this means enabling whanau and communities to achieve the aspirations they have determined.

“I want to contribute from my role to a community that is prosperous across all facets of wellbeing.

“I hope the people of the district will respond to that.

“It's who I am.”

BEST OUTCOMES: The new second in command of Tairawhiti police, Inspector Darren Paki, was welcomed to the district on his home marae in Tokomaru Bay. Picture supplied
Area Prevention manager Darren Paki
Area Prevention manager Darren Paki
Area Prevention manager Darren Paki