Police farewell Northland constable Gail Shepherd who died after being struck by car

Northland police constable Gail Shepherd was also known for her dedication to kaupapa waka, instructing young paddlers at events around the North.

Northland police constable Gail Shepherd was also known for her dedication to kaupapa waka, instructing young paddlers at events around the North.
Photo: Supplied

A much-loved Northland police officer who died when she was struck by a car has been farewelled with a full police service in Whangārei.

She is now on her way to her marae near Cape Rēinga.

Gail Elizabeth Shepherd was walking a family member’s dogs at Helena Bay, north of Whangārei, about 3.15pm on Saturday when a car reportedly hit a power pole and then her.

Shepherd (Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Hauā) started her police career in Whangārei 15 years ago.

More recently, she had served as the sole constable in Kohukohu, covering a large area in rural North Hokianga, and had just transferred to Houhora, New Zealand’s northernmost police station, at the start of this year.

She took over the role, another sole-charge position, from her brother, Constable Leon “Smiley” Shepherd.

She was also well known for her role in kaupapa waka and was a dedicated paddler in events around Northland, in particular the Waitangi Day waka display.

Shepherd was also heavily involved in netball, rugby and the police Blue Light programme for youth. She loved dogs and was known for taking in rescue animals others would have given up on.

She was a niece of Joe Conrad, captain of the great waka Ngātokimatawhaorua, based at the Treaty Grounds in Waitangi, and Stan Conrad, an expert in ocean voyaging.

Northland police constable Gail Shepherd was also known for her dedication to kaupapa waka, instructing young paddlers at events around the North – such as the Waitangi Day celebrations pictured here.

Gail Shepherd at the Waitangi Day celebrations.
Photo: Supplied

Joe Conrad said Shepherd had been taking a break from the rigours of her job at her cousin’s home in Helena Bay when she offered to take the dogs for a walk.

She was walking near the intersection of Russell Road and Webb Road when a car came around the corner, crashed into a power pole, and ricocheted into her.

The first her cousin knew was when the dogs came home without her.

She went to investigate and, seeing the ambulances and police cars, assumed at first Shepherd was “doing her police thing” and helping at the scene.

Only later did she realise Shepherd had been hit.

Joe Conrad said the tragedy had hit the family hard.

“Gail was a very special girl, not only to us but to the police whānau as well. She was highly regarded also for her mahi with waka, using that to bring kids to a better place. She’ll be sadly missed,” he said.

“You just never know when your time is up.”

Shepherd was the steerer on Te Whānau Moana, the waka captained by Joe Conrad’s daughter, Miri Conrad.

Far North Mayor Moko Tepania paid tribute to Shepherd and expressed his aroha for her whānau.

In particular, Tepania recalled her commitment to keeping the people of North Hokianga safe during Cyclone Gabrielle in February last year.

Her determination to help others without fuss or recognition was summed up when a TV crew from Seven Sharp turned up at the marae where she was helping out.

Tepania said he asked her to go on camera with him but Shepherd, complete with gumboots and a tea towel over her shoulder, answered: “Why would I do that, that’s your job, or get some of the others to do it, I’ll keep doing mahi in the background”.

Police Minister Mark Mitchell has also paid tribute.

“My heart and thoughts go out to Constable Gail Shepherd’s, family, friends, community and her police family who will deeply affected and saddened by her sudden and tragic death … It is obvious that she is much loved and respected by all those whose lives she touched,” he said.

After a small family service at Haven Falls Poutama Tangihanga Funeral Home on Sunday evening, Shepherd spent the night at her home in Morningside, Whangārei.

She was farewelled by her colleagues with a full police service at Haven Falls on Monday morning.

Later on Monday, she will travel to the family home at Te Kao, 60km north of Kaitāia, and from there to Pōtahi Marae for her tangihanga.

Details of the tangihanga will be known later on Monday.

She will be buried in the family urupā, Tutumaio.

Shepherd is survived by a daughter, two sons, and several grandchildren.

Earlier, a police spokesperson said Shepherd’s death was a tragic loss for the Northland community.

Her colleagues were being offered support and an investigation into the crash was continuing.

Source link

Leave a Reply