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Matiu Ratana funeral: Mourners remember officer killed in line of duty

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image captionSgt Matt Ratana's coffin was surrounded by tributes in the chapel

The funeral of a Metropolitan Police officer who was fatally shot in the line of duty has been held.

Sgt Matiu Ratana, who was known as Matt, was killed at Croydon Custody Centre on 25 September as he prepared to search a suspect.

Moving tributes were paid to Sgt Ratana by his family, friends and former colleagues at the service in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.

Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick described Sgt Ratana as a "leader".

The memorial for the 54-year-old was held at a chapel and attended in person by a limited number of his family, friends and close colleagues due to coronavirus restrictions.

It was live-streamed so well-wishers around the world, including Sgt Ratana's relatives in his native New Zealand, could follow the service.

'A big ball of energy'

Along with flowers, there was also a traditional Maori fighting weapon called a mere, which the chief of a tribe would hand down to his son, sent as a sign of respect from New Zealand police, where he worked from 2003 to 2008.

The coffin was placed in front of a photograph of the officer wearing his East Grinstead rugby shirt, with a fern tree, a symbol of New Zealand national identity, to one side.

At the other side was a table with a photo tribute from his son Luke, which read: "Dad, Till we meet again, Aroha nui (much love) Luke," along with the officer's police medals.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionSgt Matiu Ratana spent five years with his partner Su

A tribute from his partner Su Bushby was read at the service by friend Lorraine Dray.

She said: "Matt made the most of every minute of his precious 54 years. In any situation or room he walked into, his presence would always be felt. Like a big ball of energy.

"You were taken far too soon, your gym, rugby and policing family will help your legacy, your kindness and your spirit live on.

"You have touched so many people's lives, you will be truly missed. My life has been richer and funnier for knowing you and I feel blessed you were in my life."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionSgt Matiu Ratana (second from right) with colleagues from the Met Police
image copyrightPA Media
image captionOne floral tribute was made in the image of an All Blacks shirt, in honour of his New Zealand roots

A tribute was also read out on behalf of relatives in New Zealand - including his brother James, his sister Jessica and his stepmother Dianne - by Met Police colleague Det Con Neil Perkin.

They said: "The nature of Matt's death has been a harrowing experience for his family and friends here in New Zealand and around the world.

"We are comforted by the knowledge that he is with people who love him as much as we do, and that his remains will return home, to his final resting place with his ancestors."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionSu Bushby (centre) watches as the hearse departs following the funeral service of her partner, police officer Sgt Matt Ratana

Analysis

By Home Affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford

The shooting of Sgt Matt Ratana, on duty, inside the police custody centre he was running that night shocked the UK police family to the core.

At this intimate funeral there were constant reminders of the importance to policing of teamwork, of people who are leaders but choose not to move up to senior policing roles, of officers who have busy lives outside policing and bring some of that life back into their work.

By all accounts Sgt Ratana was a beacon of that kind of policing. He had done an abundance of different jobs in the Metropolitan police. He had worked in surveillance. He had carried a firearm He had worked in the Territorial Support Group which deals with some of the most violent situations. He had even been seconded back to New Zealand.

He was described by one fellow officer as a "natural thief-taker and communicator." His Commissioner said he would sometimes stand at the open door of his police van as it drove along and claim he was "engaging with the public." He had once distracted an angry crowd by launching into a Maori "Haka."

But policing does not stop. It has to carry on. Dame Cressida Dick closed her speech with this simple quote from one of his colleagues "We'll take it from here Sarg"

image copyrightPA Media
image captionMembers of the East Grinstead Rugby Club paid tribute to Sgt Matiu Ratana days after he died
image copyrightMet police
image captionMet Commissioner Cressida Dick had worked with Sgt Matiu Ratana

His son Luke, also a police officer, said he had been touched by the tributes paid to his father.

In a eulogy read on his behalf, he said: "My dad Matthew was certainly larger than life and a man loved by so many people.

"It is deeply touching to see the tributes that have been paid to him and the outpouring of love and support from friends, family, work colleagues, the rugby community and the people of the United Kingdom and beyond.

"It makes me very proud to see the impact that he has had and how he touched the lives of so many."

Floral tributes in the chapel included a wreath from Home Secretary Priti Patel and an All Blacks rugby shirt with "Matt" in white lettering, along with wreaths from the East Grinstead rugby club and South Coast Gym.

The funeral was followed by a private cremation service.

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