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Tributes to police kaumatua

‘TAONGA FOR TAIRAWHITI POLICE’: Des Ratima is pictured at the opening of the rangatahi court at Te Aranga Marae, Flaxmere in October last year. Hawke’s Bay Today picture

AREA police commander Inspector Sam Aberahama has paid tribute to the late Des Ratima, a kaumatua from Hawke’s Bay who has been a “taonga” for this district too.

Inspector Aberahama joins Eastern District Police in acknowledging the passing of Mr Ratima, who died on Sunday morning.

He worked closely with police across the Eastern District for many years, providing valuable guidance and support to senior police staff working with Maori.

“His contribution has helped police bridge important relationships and get the balance to help interpret all sides of a debate, and his honesty and ability to cut to the chase has always been valued,” said NZ Police deputy commissioner Tania Kura.

Mr Ratima recently received a New Zealand Police service plaque with an inscription describing his immense contribution to police.

“Des was an adviser to me during the Tuia 250 event and has been a key person advising me on other matters,” Insp Aberahama said.

“He has been a taonga for Tairawhiti police, and he whakapapas back to this area, to Rongowhakaata through his mother.

“Des has always been a strong supporter of police through the Eastern District — and a true gentleman,

with his wife Evelyn by his side.”

Deputy commissioner Kura credits Mr Ratima for opening her mind to solving problems collaboratively and with the understanding that often there can be more than one option to choose.

“He was a gently persuasive and very insightful man and he will leave a huge gap in the community.

“Our thoughts are with his wife and the whanau at this very sad time.”

The plaque inscription Mr Ratima received reads: “We recognise his generous heart, passion and commitment to the wellbeing of Maori and the community — E te toka tu moana, toka tu tangata, akina tai, akina hau (A beacon amidst the oceans, a mountain amongst men, lighthouse in the storms, shield from the billows.”

Mr Ratima was 69.