All Blacks legend led tribute to the officer killed in line of duty

Former All Blacks hero Zinzan Brooke was part of an emotional haka following the service for New Zealand-born police officer Sgt. Matt Ratana.

Ratana – originally from Hawke’s Bay – was killed in the line of duty at the Croydon Custody Centre, South London, in September.

The 54-year-old was a popular member of his rugby community, coaching at East Grinstead, and amongst the floral tributes at his service – including a wreath from Home Secretary Priti Patel and one of an All Blacks rugby shirt – was a wreath from East Grinstead RFC.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Ratana’s funeral in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex was live-streamed to family, friends and colleagues. And after the funeral Brooke and Ngati Rānana, a London-based Māori club, performed a haka as Ratana’s casket departed in a hearse.

In the wake of the tragedy, Ratana’s partner Su Bushby and others set up a JustGiving page, which stated: “In response to (all of the messages of support), Su and friends are establishing a fund within a charitable foundation (The Atlas Foundation is a UK registered charity number 1161179) and also a Just Giving page to raise funds and continue with the great rugby projects that were close to Matt’s heart. Su’s first decision was to name the foundations fund: The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation.

“Matt was a truly inspiring and much-loved figure. He will never be forgotten and his rugby legacy will live on with us.

“Kia Kaha.”

Follow the link to make a donation to The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation.

His son Luke, also a police officer, said in a eulogy read on his behalf: “My dad was certainly larger than life and a man loved by so many people.

“It is deeply touching to see the tributes that have been paid to him and the outpouring of love and support from friends, family, work colleagues, the rugby community and the people of the United Kingdom and beyond.

“It makes me very proud to see the impact that he has had and how he touched the lives of so many.”

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