Ōtaki senior constable Mike Howland has had 20 years service with the police.
Most of that time has been spent on the beat around the Kāpiti Coast, so the Ōtaki territory is by no means foreign to him. That suits him fine, because his family is now happily settled in Ōtaki and enjoying being part of the community.
Although Mike didn’t go into the police immediately after leaving college, he always had it in mind after policeman Neil Murphy spoke at a school careers day.
“He was pretty inspiring,” Mike says. “He got me interested in policing and was one of the main reasons for joining up.”
Mike lived in Upper Hutt before moving with his family to Waikanae when he was 7. He left school aged 16, and took on a variety of jobs before taking off for an OE, which got him only as far as the cotton fields of Queensland before he returned to Waikanae.
He did an electrical apprenticeship and worked for about seven years with his father, who was himself a sparkie. Meantime, he was playing rugby for Waikanae and a couple of his playing mates talked to him about their work with the police.
Mike was accepted into the police in 1997. He had a variety of posts, including at Waikanae, where with fellow officer Mike Tahere he established a community office in Mahara Place.
He then took some time away from the police to go overseas again, working in Australia as an electrician, and returned to the police with a posting at the Wellington Central station.
It was back to the Kāpiti station then a move further north to Otaki in 2011. In 2013 he was posted to Te Araroa on the East Coast as sole charge officer. That posting was significant because it was an opportunity to connect with his Ngāti Porou roots.
The latest move, to Ōtaki, came in 2016. Mike says that Ōtaki has its challenges but they’re not much different anywhere else.
“In a town like this, we [as police] just have to build trust with people so they can talk to us and be confident that we’re listening.”