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Farewell To Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha And Sergeant Wayne Panapa

After a combined 90 years of service, New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner Wallace (Wally) Haumaha (Te Awara, Tainui, Mataatua) and Sergeant Wayne Panapa (Ngāti Whātua and Ngāti Ngawaero), a Cultural Advisor in Police’s Iwi and Communities team, have served their last day in uniform.

Deputy Commissioner Haumaha and Sergeant Panapa’s long careers and service to New Zealand was celebrated at Pipitea Marae last Friday.

A teacher before joining Police in 1984, the young Wally Haumaha had a burning desire to make a difference for Māori. Four decades later, he retires as Deputy Commissioner, and one of the architects of Police’s transformed relationships with iwi and other communities.

It’s a career which has put him ringside – and often in the ring – for many defining events in New Zealand’s history. “I never imagined I’d still be here 40 years later,” he said.

“What a ride, what an awesome journey, what a privilege it has been to be part of the successes, the failures, the challenges, the changes.

“But most of all, I’m grateful for the honour it’s been to serve our country and the institution of policing.”

Wally tried to join Police as a teenager in 1970 but was too young. He came back in 1984 after pursuing a teaching career and having travelled overseas with a Māori cultural group.

He graduated from Wing 89 and served in Rotorua until 2004, apart from a two-year break to help his family set up a retail business.

He worked frontline, CIB, as section supervisor, District Community Relations Coordinator and Māori Responsiveness Advisor – then in 2004 he was seconded to Police National Headquarters at inspector rank as Strategic Māori Advisor.

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From its creation in 2007, he has helmed Māori Pacific and Ethnic Services (MPES), which became part of the new Iwi and Community group, with Wally its Deputy Commissioner, in 2020.

“I’ve never relied on the orthodoxy of policing, or traditional practices, to achieve what some people would consider the unachievable,” he says.

Orthodox or not, his mahi has been officially recognised over the years –with Royal honours in 1997 (QSM) and 2017 (ONZM).

“My purpose, I believe, was to push the brown boundaries of Police, break the unbreakable and carve out innovative pathways and practices to achieve justice around fairness and equality.”

Wally’s career and life are grounded in his roots. He has been chair of the Ngāti Ngāraranui hapū marae, Waiteti, at Ngongotahā, Rotorua, for around 35 years. School board, rugby club, volunteer fire brigade – his community links run deep.

“It’s important to all of us where we come from,” he says. “If I never acknowledged where I come from within my hapū and within my whānau, then I would be nothing.

“What‘s kept me grounded and given me the energy to continue to push is when I look at my own whānau, my hapū, my iwi, and acknowledge there’s so much to do.”

Wayne Panapa joined the Ministry of Transport in July 1973 and transferred to Police when the organisations merged in 1992.

He was one of Police’s first iwi liaison officers and led the Māori Wardens project, having an instrumental role in training the wardens as they began operating within the policing environment.

He was one of five police officers, along with Wally Haumaha, who led the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed hikoi from Northland to Parliament.

He has been heavily involved in the policing of high-profile events including Ratana and Waitangi. In recent years, he has advocated for Te Pae Oranga, Iwi Community Panels in which Police work in partnership with local iwi to address low-level offending in an alternative pathway through a te ao Māori lens.

“Policing is rewarding, you never go to work and leave your culture at home,” he says.

In June 2001 he was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for his contribution and work alongside iwi and Māori Wardens to strengthen relations between iwi and Police.In 2014 he was one of six Police staff to receive the Police Meritorious Service Medal for his dedication and leadership.

Panapa’s 50 years’ of service was celebrated in June last year at Kirikiriroa Marae, Hamilton. Those close to him were in attendance.

At the time, Haumaha thanked Panapa for his service and how it reflects significant commitment to Policing in New Zealand.

“It is a commendable feat where you have been an instrumental part of the team, that has taken the Kaupapa Māori Programme to greater and newer heights.”

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster acknowledged the pair’s retirement and the significant contribution both Deputy Commissioner Haumaha and Sergeant Panapa had made to Police’s relationship with Māori.

“How do I sum up your commitment and passion, not only for iwi Māori but for the uniform you have worn with pride throughout your careers?”

Coster also acknowledged the individual work of both Haumaha and Panapa at Friday’s celebration.

Haumaha was commended on his response to the challenges he faced, as well as the long-lasting impact he had on those around him.

“Whether its a frontline policing response, a strategic discussion or a relationship negotiation, tikanga, whakapapa, manaakitanga and mana are cornerstones of Wally’s problem-solving approach because they are the cornerstone of the man.

“The challenges have been many but, Wally, your strength and resolve to stick to who you are is exceptional. Many people in the room today and many more to come will benefit from the path you have carved out. They have inspired you and you have inspired them.”

Coster also thanked Panapa for his decades of service, with his work to build better relationships between iwi Māori and Police a notable piece of work.

“Five decades of service represents a massive commitment and contribution to policing in this country. Wayne is described as the quintessential community cop, the voice between the people and the Police, one never to leave his culture at the door.”

“He has brought better outcomes for iwi Māori and has battled to strengthen ties between iwi and Police in all his roles.”

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