Picturesque Raglan a permanent beat for Gary

Constable Gary Ryburn suggests a “hoon” out to Manu Bay to do the interview for his profile, as Raglan’s new cop.

There’s a lookout above the bay that’s his favourite spot to park up, do emails, make phonecalls, eat doughnuts … No, that last bit is a joke – he appears to quite like his “guns” (one has recently been inked in his first tattoo), so it’s unlikely that crap food is part of his diet. Besides, he’s a meat and potatoes bloke, he tells me, when inquiring about the best restaurant in town.

“I love to park here – right where that car is parked,” Gary says, as we drive on past and enter Manu Bay Reserve instead.

From there “you can watch the surf and see the Raglan bar”.

Actually, coming to work in Raglan every day from Hamilton is pretty cool, he reckons. “Raglan is picturesque.”

The 42-year-old is Raglan’s new permanent officer. He signed the contract about six weeks ago, after working in Raglan for three months on a temporary placement, and plans to move out this way, get a lifestyle block, after he flicks on his house in Hamilton.

No, he doesn’t surf but he loves fishing.

And he’s lived here before, when he was 11, he says. His parents split up and he lived with his mum for a year in Raglan before going back to the farm in Ngahinapouri, back to his dad.

Raglan was “much the same then as it is now”, but now there’s “much more tourism and more expensive real estate”.

Gary even attended Raglan Area School and has come across half a dozen or so of his old school mates, “on a non-work-related basis”, he confirms.

The people in Raglan are generally pretty well behaved, he reckons, “when you compare it with some of the shittiest suburbs in Hamilton”.

He previously worked frontline based at Hamilton Central for two years, doing a wide variety of work that involved a lot of family violence, disorder and burglaries.

“I loved it, I did really enjoy it, and also the camaraderie among all the section staff,” he says.

But the horrible stuff does get you down, “I was probably at that stage in my career where I needed a change”.

His new role in Raglan, as the town’s third permanent police officer, “helps you with your decision-making”, he says. “Because you are on your own a lot of the time, it means you have to make the right decisions.

“Back-up is 25 minutes away at best.”

Gary, a father of four, came into the police force later in life.

He’s been a dairy farmer for 20 years, and becoming a police officer was always something he wanted to do.

His wife used to tell him “don’t be so ridiculous, the pay is crap”, and she believed the only reason why he wanted to be a cop was to wear a uniform, because he looked good in blue.

But “the old cliché is I want to make a difference. I guess I like helping people. I have a bit of a compassionate side, I don’t know, and I like being around people”.

When his “marriage went tits up”, he decided to do it.  “I am single, I can do what I want. I always wanted to be a cop so I thought I can have a crack at it now … or be left wondering later on in my life, you can’t have any regrets.”

Gary went to Police College in 2014 and loved it.

No, he didn’t feel old, being nearly 40 at the time.

“No I felt young. I still feel pretty young. I was not the oldest.”

His Raglan job – drink-driving is a big issue here, and “nobody wears their seatbelts” – is part of a grand plan to make his way up the ladder to become sergeant, “that’s my goal”.

“The position for me is about career development.

“In this game they like you to be well-rounded and gain experience and develop in a new area, whether it be road experience, family violence …

“My sergeants at the time, what is the right word, they recommended that working at a small rural station would be good for my career development.”                         Inger Vos