Matt Ratana funeral: Met Police officers remember ‘funny’ colleague


A haka was performed for Sergeant Matt Ratana following his funeral today after his partner said he would ‘always be in my heart’ and his boss revealed he used to jokingly ask to be called the ‘Sheriff of South Norwood’. 

The 54-year-old Metropolitan Police officer was fatally shot at Croydon Custody Centre in South London in the early hours of September 25 as he prepared to search a handcuffed suspect in a case that shocked the country.

His live-streamed memorial at a chapel in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, was attended by a small number of his family, friends and close colleagues as well as Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Following the service, a traditional haka was performed by Ngati Rānana, the London Maori Club, who were joined by legendary former New Zealand rugby player Zinzan Brooke, in front of Sergeant Rattana’s coffin in a funeral car.

At the funeral, Dame Cressida was the first to stand as mourners listened to the hymn Jerusalem, before Debra Hajek read a poem for her sister Su Bushby, his partner, called To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me.

A friend named Lorraine Dray read a tribute from Ms Bushby, who had a five-year relationship with the officer, saying: ‘For now, I’m not going to say goodbye my darling, but see you one day. Matt, my partner, my friend, my confidante, my soulmate, you will always be in my heart and in my soul. I miss you, I love you. Su.’

Following the service in Sussex today, a traditional haka was performed by Ngati Rānana, the London Maori Club

Su Bushby, Sergeant Ratana's partner, had a five-year relationship with the New Zealand-born officer (pictured together)

Su Bushby, Sergeant Ratana’s partner, had a five-year relationship with the New Zealand-born officer (pictured together)

Su Bushby watches as the hearse departs, following the funeral service of her partner, Sergeant Matt Ratana, this afternoon

Su Busby after the funeral today

Su Bushby watches as the hearse departs, following the funeral service of her partner, Sergeant Matt Ratana, this afternoon

The club were joined by ex-New Zealand rugby player Zinzan Brooke, in front of Sergeant Rattana's coffin in a funeral car

The club were joined by ex-New Zealand rugby player Zinzan Brooke, in front of Sergeant Rattana’s coffin in a funeral car

Su Bushby (fifth from left), watches as the hearse departs after the funeral service of Sergeant Ratana in Shoreham-by-Sea

Su Bushby (fifth from left), watches as the hearse departs after the funeral service of Sergeant Ratana in Shoreham-by-Sea

Dame Cressida (centre) salutes as the funeral car is driven following today's service in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Dame Cressida (centre) salutes as the funeral car is driven following today’s service in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Dame Cressida following the service

Dame Cressida bows her head as the hearse leaves the funeral service of police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana this afternoon

Dame Cressida bows her head  as the hearse leaves the funeral service of police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana this afternoon

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick stands (front right) at the funeral service in Sussex this morning

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick stands (front right) at the funeral service in Sussex this morning

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was among the speakers representing colleagues, friends and family today

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was among the speakers representing colleagues, friends and family today

Debra Hajek (above) read a poem for her sister Su Bushby, Sergeant Ratana's partner, called To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me, during the funeral today

Another woman named Lorraine Dray read a tribute from Ms Busby

Debra Hajek (left) read a poem for her sister Su Bushby, Sergeant Ratana’s partner, called To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me, during the funeral today. Another woman named Lorraine Dray (right) read a tribute from Ms Busby

The tribute form Ms Bushby added: ‘Matt made the most of every minute of his precious 54 years. In any situation or room he walked into, his presence would always be felt. Like a big ball of energy. You were taken far too soon.

‘Your gym, rugby and policing family will help your legacy, your kindness and your spirit live on. You have touched so many people’s lives, you will be truly missed. My life has been richer and funnier for knowing you and I feel blessed you were in my life.’

She also remembered her partner’s ‘big, infectious smile’ and said he would want everyone who knew him to remember him with love.

And Dame Cressida said: ‘Matt was a fantastic professional police officer, a brilliant sergeant, a leader, a supremely loyal colleague and friend and a true team player. He mentored and coached generations of officers, young and old, and junior and senior.’

She also praised his ‘lovely nature and his big, generous, lion’s heart’, adding: ‘He brought amazing energy and determination to the job as to his life, as enthusiastic after 25 years as he was after two.’

She added that Sergeant Rattana used to jokingly insist on being called the ‘Sherriff of South Norwood’ while policing the area of South London. 

Mourners watch as the hearse departs, following the funeral service of police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana this afternoon

Mourners watch as the hearse departs, following the funeral service of police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana this afternoon

A floral tribute from Sergeant Rattana's beloved East Grinstead rugby club is visible within the hearse this afternoon

A floral tribute from Sergeant Rattana’s beloved East Grinstead rugby club is visible within the hearse this afternoon

Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, was fatally shot at Croydon Custody Centre in South London in the early hours of September 25

Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, was fatally shot at Croydon Custody Centre in South London in the early hours of September 25

A floral tribute in the shape of an All Blacks rugby shirt sits by the coffin of Sergeant Ratana in Shoreham-by-Sea today

A floral tribute in the shape of an All Blacks rugby shirt sits by the coffin of Sergeant Ratana in Shoreham-by-Sea today

The coffin stood in front of a photograph of the officer wearing his East Grinstead rugby shirt, with a fern tree, a symbol of New Zealand national identity, to one side

The coffin stood in front of a photograph of the officer wearing his East Grinstead rugby shirt, with a fern tree, a symbol of New Zealand national identity, to one side 

The coffin of New Zealand-born officer Sergeant Ratana is surrounded by floral tributes ahead of his funeral service today

The coffin of New Zealand-born officer Sergeant Ratana is surrounded by floral tributes ahead of his funeral service today

A tribute was also read out on behalf of relatives in New Zealand – including his brother James, his sister Jessica and his stepmother Dianne – by Met Police colleague Detective Constable Neil Perkin.

How Sergeant Matt Ratana was remembered at his funeral today 

Su Bushby, partner: ‘You have touched so many people’s lives, you will be truly missed. My life has been richer and funnier for knowing you and I feel blessed you were in my life.’

Luke Rattana, son: ‘My wish is that people come together, support one another and find solace and comfort in the sharing of their happy memories of Matthew’s life.’

Dame Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner: ‘Matt was a fantastic professional police officer, a brilliant sergeant, a leader, a supremely loyal colleague and friend and a true team player. 

Priti Patel, Home Secretary: ‘You will be forever in our thoughts and in our hearts. May you rest in peace.’

Chris Corlett, friend: who said: ‘My solace in this is that I still talk to Matt, although I know he’s gone physically. I ask his advice, and he still makes me laugh, and laughs at me, and I still feel inspired by him.’

Neil Donohue, from his gym: ‘No matter who you were, he always had time for you. He would help, guide and encourage others, be it with work or in society in general.’

Rylan Morlen, rugby friend: ‘We all miss you and wish that we could turn back the clock so that you didn’t leave for your shift on the September 24.’

They said: ‘The nature of Matt’s death has been a harrowing experience for his family and friends here in New Zealand and around the world.

‘Magnified by the distance and by the epidemic facing us all, which has prevented any of us being able to travel to his service today.

‘However we are comforted by the knowledge that he is with people who love him as much as we do, and that his remains will return home, to his final resting place with his ancestors.’

His son Luke, who is also a police officer, said he had been touched by the tributes paid to his late father.

In a tribute read on his behalf by Mr Perkin, Sergeant Ratana’s son said: ‘My dad Matthew 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. This has been a devastating and tragic event, but nothing we can do can change what has happened.

‘My wish is that people come together, support one another and find solace and comfort in the sharing of their happy memories of Matthew’s life. Goodbye Dad. Rest in peace till we meet again.’

Earlier, the Met released a video with tributes from various officers who described him as ‘passionate about everything’, ‘one of the funniest men I think I’ve ever met’ and a ‘huge personality and a huge loss’.

Others said Sergeant Ratana, who fought for life for almost two hours before succumbing to the gunshot wound in his chest, was an ‘inspiration’, ‘funny’, ‘unique’, ‘courageous’, ‘loud’, ‘larger than life’, a ‘bit of a lump’, ‘memorable’, ‘unique’ and a ‘legend’.

Today’s service, which was shown on the Met’s Facebook and Twitter pages, was led by Prebendary Jonathan Osborne MBE, the Met’s senior chaplain, and Maori speaker the Ven Jo Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury.

The event was live-streamed around the world so well-wishers, including loved ones in Sergeant Ratana’s native New Zealand as well as in the UK, could join the service. 

Sergeant Matt Ratana is pictured shaking hands with Dame Cressida Dick in a picture released by Scotland Yard today

Sergeant Matt Ratana is pictured shaking hands with Dame Cressida Dick in a picture released by Scotland Yard today

Sergeant Ratana with his partner Su Bushby. She described him as 'my friend, my confidante, my soulmate' in the funeral

Sergeant Ratana with his partner Su Bushby. She described him as ‘my friend, my confidante, my soulmate’ in the funeral

Sergeant Ratana had been with his partner for five years, and a tribute was read out on her behalf at today's funeral

Sergeant Ratana had been with his partner for five years, and a tribute was read out on her behalf at today’s funeral

Sergeant Ratana with his partner Su Bushby. Police colleagues today paid their respects to him at the funeral in West Sussex

Sergeant Ratana with his partner Su Bushby. Police colleagues today paid their respects to him at the funeral in West Sussex

His coffin was covered in the Met Police’s ceremonial drape, which is used for a death in service, with his police cap placed on top.

Beautiful words of poem read by sister of Sergeant Rattana’s partner 

Debra Hajek read a poem for her sister Su Bushby, Sergeant Ratana’s partner, called To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me. It says:

When I am gone, release me, let me go.

I have so many things to see and do,

You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,

But be thankful we had so many good years.

I gave you my love, and you can only guess

How much you’ve given me in happiness.

I thank you for the love that you have shown,

But now it is time I traveled on alone.

So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must,

Then let your grief be comforted by trust.

It is only for a while that we must part,

So treasure the memories within your heart.

I won’t be far away for life goes on.

And if you need me, call and I will come.

Though you can’t see or touch me, I will be near.

And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear,

All my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you come this way alone,

I’ll greet you with a smile and a ‘Welcome Home’.

Along with flowers, there was also a traditional Maori fighting weapon called a mere, which the chief of a tribe would hand down to his son, sent as a sign of respect from New Zealand police, where he worked from 2003 to 2008.

The coffin stood in front of a photograph of the officer wearing his East Grinstead rugby shirt, with a fern tree, a symbol of New Zealand national identity, to one side.

At the other side was a table with a photo tribute from his son Luke, which read: ‘Dad, Till we meet again, Aroha nui (much love) Luke,’ with pictures including a fern, along with the officer’s police medals.

Meanwhile Neil Donohue, the director of South Coast Gym where Sergeant Ratana trained, recalled how he would perform the Haka in the middle of the gym.

He would trick unsuspecting friends by asking them if they knew what the All Blacks side step was – before charging them down.

Mr Donohoe said: ‘His tricks and antics are legendary and will remain the topic of conversation for many years to come. But we cannot, and will not, forget what made him so legendary as a person.

‘It was his caring about others. No matter who you were, he always had time for you. He would help, guide and encourage others, be it with work or in society in general.

‘He was a big man with a big heart and would always treat others the way he wanted to be treated himself.

‘He will be deeply missed. His passing has left us with a massive, Matt Ratana-shaped hole not only in our gym but in the hearts of every life he touched.’ 

Sergeant Ratana’s friend from East Grinstead Rugby Club, Rylan Morlen, recalled that his last words to the officer had been ‘Be safe, mate’. He told the service his friend would be ‘hugely missed and a figure that will never be replaced’.

Mr Morlen said: ‘We all miss you and wish that we could turn back the clock so that you didn’t leave for your shift on the September 24.’ 

He went on: ‘I love you, we love you, and your legacy will always live on, Mr Ratana. Back to my final words to you as the office door closed – ‘Be safe, mate’. Sadly that wasn’t enough.

‘We will achieve what we’d spoken about, just wait and see. Continue to watch down on us all, watch the club do you proud. Goodbye for now. I’m sure our paths will cross again one day and when they do we’ll talk rugby again.’ 

Sergeant Ratana was known for his love of rugby and was involved with East Grinstead rugby club

Sergeant Ratana was known for his love of rugby and was involved with East Grinstead rugby club

Matt Ratana

Matt Ratana

Two photographs of Sergeant Ratana issued by Scotland Yard today as police colleagues paid their respects at his funeral

Sergeant Ratana (second right) with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police in an image released by the force today

Sergeant Ratana (second right) with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police in an image released by the force today

Matt Ratana

Matt Ratana

Moving tributes were paid to Sergeant Ratana today by his family, friends and colleagues at his funeral service in Sussex

Floral tributes in the chapel included a wreath from Home Secretary Priti Patel, which read: ‘In memory and remembrance of dear Matt, for his selfless sacrifice, courage and service.

‘You will be forever in our thoughts and in our hearts. May you rest in peace. Home Secretary.’

Other floral tributes included an All Blacks rugby shirt with ‘Matt’ in white lettering, along with wreaths from the East Grinstead rugby club and South Coast Gym. 

Music at the service included rugby anthems Jerusalem and World In Union, as well as the song In Your Eyes by George Benson. Prayers were said in both Maori and English.

Other tributes were paid by Met colleague and friend Chris Corlett, who said: ‘My family and I won’t forget Matt, ever. Nor will the thousands of people whose lives he touched.

‘My solace in this is that I still talk to Matt, although I know he’s gone physically. I ask his advice, and he still makes me laugh, and laughs at me, and I still feel inspired by him. Some things never die. Matt’s energy and his love is all still here.’

The funeral was broadcast live from around 11.45am UK time to ensure Sergeant Ratana’s colleagues, friends and family in the UK, New Zealand and around the world could join the service.

The force said that due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was unable to provide a force service funeral, but a full service memorial will be planned for when restrictions are lifted.

The funeral was followed by a private cremation service and his ashes will return to New Zealand where they will be buried with his ancestors at Rātana Pā.

Previous tributes paid to Sergeant Ratana following his death remembered the police officer of almost 30 years as a ‘gentle giant’ and ‘irreplaceable figure’ who was part of the ‘police family’. 

The suspect in the case, previously named as 23-yearold Louis De Zoysa, fired his weapon ‘several times’ despite being handcuffed. Sergeant Ratana was shot once as he moved to search the suspect, who also shot himself.

October 2: Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (2nd left) and her colleagues (L-R) Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave; Robin Wilkinson, Chief of Corporate Services; Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe; Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House and Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball observe a silence for Sergeant Ratana at the Empress State Building in London

October 2: Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (2nd left) and her colleagues (L-R) Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave; Robin Wilkinson, Chief of Corporate Services; Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe; Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House and Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball observe a silence for Sergeant Ratana at the Empress State Building in London

September 27: Players and club officials observe a minute's silence at East Grinstead rugby club in Kent to pay their respects to police officer Sergeant Ratana who was the head coach at the club

September 27: Players and club officials observe a minute’s silence at East Grinstead rugby club in Kent to pay their respects to police officer Sergeant Ratana who was the head coach at the club

De Zoysa remains in hospital under police guard and remains ‘unfit for interviewing’ after apparently also shooting himself. The suspect was stopped and searched in Croydon by uniformed officers on a routine patrol.

During the search the officers found items ‘suspected of being controlled drugs and firearms ammunition’, an inquest heard last month. The suspect was handcuffed and taken in a police vehicle to the custody centre.

Upon arrival, he was taken to a holding room with officers, where he remained in handcuffs as officers prepared to search him. Sergeant Ratana entered the holding room when the suspect produced the gun and shot him.

A post-mortem examination gave cause of death as a gunshot wound to the chest. A revolver was later recovered from the scene and no police firearms were discharged.

A man was arrested in Norwich on September 27 on suspicion of supplying a firearm in relation to the case, but’ was later released without further action. The case has not been treated as terror-related. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk