By Alisa Yong
After almost 17 years of serving his community as a police officer, “Chopper the Copper” is hanging up his hat.
One of Wairarapa’s most well-known officers, Senior Constable Nathan Riwai-Couch, is departing the force today after 16 and a half years of service.
Mr Riwai-Couch, 43, said he planned to continue working for the community but the time had come to make a change.
“I’m just going to take a bit of time to hang out with the family and contemplate these things,” he said.
His passion had always been helping people and that would not be changing, he said.
“It’s pretty much how I am … serving the community, that’s the way I’m focused.”
The former Wairarapa Bush rugby player has worked as the Wairarapa iwi liaison officer since 2010 and was previously the education officer, a position now held by his wife, Keely.
As the grandson of All Black and government minister Manuera, or Ben Riwai-Couch, he had relished the opportunity to build on the relationships created by his grandfather and father.
“It’s all about the community, not about ticking boxes — even though that’s important to make sure you do things right — it’s got to be the community that comes first.”
When asked what policing achievements had made him most proud, Mr Riwai-Couch said one thing that stood out was setting up an initiative with JNL to source donated wood for those in need.
He came up with the idea after visiting a mother who was burning cardboard to keep warm and whose children had been hospitalised with hypothermia.
“I’ve gone and dropped off loads of firewood to deserving whanau or kaumatua and nannies or people going through difficult times, because it’s little things like that that make a huge difference.”
The rippa rugby tournament and water safety mentoring programme were other high points.
He wished to thank the community “for their part in in making it such a joy for me over the last 16 and a half years”.
His replacement has yet to be appointed.
Chopper signs off
By Alisa Yong