Farewell to a loyal friend

Farewell to a loyal friend

Photos by Senior Constable Shelley Richardson, Wellington Forensic Imaging

More than 400 family, friends and Police colleagues packed the gymnasium at The Royal New Zealand Police College this week to say farewell to Inspector Donna Howard.

Donna’s coffin was carried in by Police pall bearers from Wellington and the Wairarapa, joined by her brother Gary. Donna was carried out by her close female friends, who paused outside while the recruits performed a moving haka in front of the Memorial Wall.

The mourners included more than 15 members of the Police Executive - including Commissioner Mike Bush and Deputy Commissioners Mike Clement and Viv Rickard – and the full Wellington District Senior Leadership Team led by Superintendent Sam Hoyle.

Speakers included Gary and Donna’s close friends Linda Johnson, Taryn Ryan, Sergeant Sue Johnston and Helen Harris.

Police eulogies were given by Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller and Superintendent Anna Jackson, of Police Professional Conduct.

“Everyone told stories of Donna, mostly funny, of her life before joining Police and during her 27 years as a serving officer,” says Scott.

“There were a few tears and lots of laughs as stories of Donna’s overseas travels, overseas work excursions and New Zealand adventures were remembered.”

One of the many messages received read: “There were so many things Donna did for us - I don’t think people realise how much she did behind closed doors to shield her people or how humble and embarrassed she would be if she really heard how we all feel about her.

“Donna would send text messages or flowers often at her own expense if you were sick, lost a loved one, or just did a bloody good job.”

Some stories related her loving obsession with her dog Sam – who was present – and operational experiences.

These included being part of the Vietnam contingent at APEC in Auckland in 1999, being O/C of numerous homicide inquiries, conducting large drug investigations with Wellington Organised Crime Group, and her contribution to driving a positive Police culture as an Inspector in the Professional Conduct Group at PNHQ.

The last few minutes of the ceremony were spent watching Donna’s life in photos while her favourite song – Immortality, by Celine Dion - played.

“Donna’s time as Area Commander Wairarapa showed her to have a caring, determined and intelligent approach to making Wairarapa a safe place to live and work,” says Scott.

“She was extremely community-minded, well liked, totally loyal to her staff and she conducted herself with openness and humour. Donna was a passionate, approachable, dependable person who got things done both for her people and her community.”