Being born and bred in Mataura has given Youth Aid officer Steve Heyrick a valuable glimpse into several generations of families.
Senior Constable Heyrick has been in the police force for 30 years.
Not only did Snr Const Heyrick know the families, he also knew the connections they had in the community.
“It’s a big advantage,” Snr Const Heyrick said.
In some cases he was now dealing with second-generation offenders from the same family, he said.
He had built up relationships with families and there was some level of trust.
“The ice is broken, and I’m not starting on the back foot,” he said.
He even had work associations with people in the district, as he started his working life at the Alliance Group Mataura plant after refusing to go back to school.
His mother wanted him to go back to school, but he was adamant he was not returning, so he cut the sleeves out of his school jersey.
When he started at the plant he thought his world had ended.
He received quite an education, he said.
“We grew up really quickly from just being school kids to men,” he said.
He started at the Mataura plant in 1980 just when the union held prolonged strikes, he said.
He applied to go to police college and it took about a year before he was accepted.
“It was like going back to school again.”
His first police posting was to Christchurch in 1987, then he came to Gore in 1990, followed by a stint in Mataura and then on to the Youth Aid job in 2006.
Snr Const Heyrick is to write a regular monthly column for The Ensign, starting next week.