Keeping tamariki safe on roads

Street Smart . . . Gore’s road and traffic constable Shawny Hokai is ready to get operation STAR on the roads. PHOTO: VALU MAKA

Gore’s new constable, Shawny Hokai, is out to make a difference on the streets.

As the new on-road and traffic constable she will start up operation Star, a programme that focuses on car seats and child restraint checks.

“The name stands for safer tamariki around roads,” she said.

“I think it is important for us to make sure our children are safe because they are our up-and-coming future.”

She will work alongside Plunket to provide information for parents on the safety issue.

Constable Hokai started the job about three months ago and had seen a massive need for children to be restrained properly in their car seats.

Constable Hokai had moved from Northland with her partner, Eric Browne, who is the constable stationed in Riversdale.

She worked on the front lines for five years in Northland and was happy to start in the new position in Gore, she said.

“We’ve found that the South Island is so different to the North Island, it’s a completely different culture.

“It was always super busy up north and the crime rates were through the roof, but being transferred down here and getting this new position has been a nice change.

“It’s a good community here and the people are friendly.”

She worked on two family farms prior to joining the New Zealand Police in July 2016, she said.

“I wanted to join the New Zealand Police at 19 but I didn’t.”

She was finally able to work up the courage to apply after she met another police officer.

“We swapped numbers and I remember I was working on the farm in the yard with the cows and I got this text from her and she said come up for a ride along.”

In the office she met Const Browne.

“I went on shift with him and the crew and from there I realised my passion for the job.”

What she loved about it was connecting with the public and serving the community.

She had realised she could help many people in a day “and my office is not restricted to a small space; it is the whole area”.