Weekend Herald

‘I miss everything about him every day’

Constable Matthew Hunt’s mother remembers her son, who was killed a year ago this month

- Anna Leask

Alot of the time, Diane Hunt tries to pretend her son was never killed — that the young Auckland police officer wasn’t shot in the middle of a West Auckland street.

But she can only do that for so long before reality floods back.

This month marks the first anniversar­y of Matthew Hunt’s death.

And just 17 days after the sad milestone, the trial for the man charged with murdering the 28-year-old will begin.

Diane Hunt can never escape the pain of losing her son.

“Does it get easier? No, it absolutely becomes harder,” she told the Weekend Herald.

“There are times where I think it’s not true, there are days when I think ‘perhaps it didn’t happen’ . . .

“I can lie to myself, I live a very quiet life, it’s just me in the house and I can make things up, like just maybe it didn’t happen.

“It’s just trying to get through the day, and the next one, and the next one.”

Hunt was the 33rd police officer to be killed in the line of duty in New Zealand.

He went to work on the morning of June 19 last year and was undertakin­g what police have described as a traffic stop when he was shot numerous times.

He died at the scene.

Hunt’s colleague — whose identity is protected — was also shot several times but managed to get away and survived the attack.

Eli Epiha has been charged with murdering Hunt, attempting to murder the other police officer and wounding a member of the public as he allegedly fled the scene in a car.

Natalie Bracken has been charged with being an accessory to Hunt’s murder after the fact, by enabling the accused killer to leave the scene in a car and avoid arrest.

Both will defend the charges at a trial in the High Court at Auckland starting on Monday, July 5.

Diane Hunt will be there — and has vowed to stay in court for every minute of both the Crown and defence cases.

Her daughter Eleanor will also be there.

“I am going every day,” she said. “As many of us, family and friends, as possible are going to be there — we’re there to represent Matthew.”

Diane said police had warned her she may want to leave the courtroom for parts of the evidence, that hearing about the last minutes and seconds of her only son’s life may be too hard.

“I don’t intend to do that,” she said.

“Matthew is my son and I want to know what happened, so I don’t intend to leave that courtroom at all.”

Diane said while she knew the basics of the allegation­s against the alleged murderer and co-accused, it was still like a nightmare to her.

She tried to pretend it never happened and the year that followed the shooting had been “a blur” — but she would never forget the details of the day her son died.

Hunt was due at his mother’s house that night for dinner.

But instead of the young constable meandering up her driveway on that sunny Friday afternoon, it was some of his colleagues who came to deliver the tragic news.

“I remember it all . . . he was coming to have dinner and we’d talked about it the night before,” she said.

“I was making sure it was still happening and he said he was looking forward to it — I was too.”

When news of the shooting broke, Diane followed the updates through the media.

“I never thought it would be him, I thought ‘Matthew doesn’t work in Massey’, but I worried that he would know the officers involved so I texted him,” she said.

Hunt never responded. Police will hold a memorial service for Hunt at the Henderson police station on Friday, June 18.

Then a private memorial will take place on the anniversar­y of his death.

His family will unveil a plaque on a bench near Orewa ¯ Beach, a favourite place of the slain constable, who spent most of his youth there.

It was also where he started his policing career.

Diane said it would be a “beautiful” reminder of her son, who she missed every hour of every day.

“Matthew and I were in daily contact and we texted all the time. Now I have nobody to text . . .

“I just miss him being him, I miss everything about him.

“He’ll be 30 this year . . . he had so much promise, he was growing into a man and I was watching it and now it’s gone.”

 ??  ?? Clockwise from main: Constable Matthew Hunt;
Clockwise from main: Constable Matthew Hunt;
 ?? Photos / NZ Police; Mark Mitchell; File ?? the scene of Hunt’s alleged murder.
Photos / NZ Police; Mark Mitchell; File the scene of Hunt’s alleged murder.
 ??  ?? Hunt’s plaque on the police Memorial Wall;
Hunt’s plaque on the police Memorial Wall;

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