Strange and Heroic Police Deaths

The New Zealand Police website, I recently discovered, has a couple of pages dedicated to the memory of police staff who have died in the line of duty – either as a result of a criminal act, or as a direct result of duty. And there are contained in these two pages stories both poignant and strange.


Drowning was a common cause of death for coppers, particularly in the early years, including a number who died in various bodies of water over the years “while on police business” – unspecified.

The first New Zealand police officer to die in the line of duty was Senior Constable Henry Porter, who “died while doing night rounds” in Port Chalmers near Dunedin in the winter of 1887. He was checking that a hulk in the port wasn’t being targeted by arsonists again, and due to a lack of site safety, he accidentally fell in and drowned.

View of old Port Chalmers looking from the hill above the harbour, looking down towards the wharves, 1870s

Ten years later, Sergeant Florence O’Donovan and Constable Alfred Stephenson drowned while rescuing people during floods in Napier. (It is worth noting that Florence O’Donovan was a man, with a great big bushy beard to avoid any confusion. The first woman to become a sergeant in the NZ Police was Betty Bennett in 1961 – later Inspector Bennett.)

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This Is It

If there’s one subject on which I have written a good many words over the years, it’s the topic of Getting Rid of Stuff. Way back in July 2014 – nearly ten years ago! – I was Feeling the Urge to Purge. Then in September I was wondering how much distillation it would take to get Drunk on Life.

By late February 2015 an alert reader was commenting that “The number of times you talk about purging, your house must be completely empty by now,” – and that was just before I’d posted about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.

I regularly listed things I was getting rid of as 2015 continued, pausing in July to toy – for the first time – with the idea of Zero Based Budgeting: starting from zero and adding in what I was sure I wanted to keep, instead of starting from Dear Me What A Lot and subtracting only what I was sure I didn’t want to keep.

Black and white. An empty room with a fireplace, an open door, and a busy floral pattern in panels on the walls.
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Tap Tap Is This Thing Working?

My apologies for the extended stage wait. I have been wrestling with the innards of websites, plugins, subscription forms, etc, etc. All going well, this post will be delivered to you by a new and hopefully more reliable blog post email plugin. (Do let me know if there are any issues.)

But that’s not all! Sundry other things have happened since I last wrote to you.

For one thing, Amiant Soul has been reviewed on Fantasy Book Critic (reviewer: Adam Weller).

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