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May 2009
Home > The Napier siege

Friends say goodbye to Len

A black chapter in New Zealand’s policing history drew to a close with the funeral of Senior Constable Len Snee in Napier.

Len, 53, was shot dead by gunman Jan Molenaar on May 7, sparking a siege that lasted 51 hours.

Senior Constable Grant Diver looks on as colleagues carry the casket of Senior Constable Len Snee from the service.
Photo: NZ Police

Hundreds of police officers from around the country gathered in downtown Napier to honour their fallen colleague six days later. They marched in a long column from Napier Police Station to the Municipal Theatre, where a supportive crowd of well-wishers broke into spontaneous applause.

Roads were closed all afternoon to accommodate thousands of mourners. The theatre’s thousand seats were quickly filled by Len’s large whānau, police officers and VIPs including Prime Minister John Key, Police Minister Judith Collins, Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples and Commissioner Howard Broad.

Len’s wife Vicki was supported by their two adult sons, Sam and Joe.

Extra seating was provided in the foyer, where the service was relayed on a giant screen. More than 1000 other people stayed outside and listened to proceedings on loud speakers.

Family eulogies described a quiet man who didn’t like fuss but was caring, reliable and passionate about family, sport and policing. Len’s sons said their dad was “the perfect mix of strength and gentleness”.

Police eulogies were given by Howard Broad, Senior Constable Paul Symonds and Inspector Mike O’Leary.

The Commissioner said every police officer faced emotional and physical risk on a daily basis.

"We work constantly to reduce that risk. But the stark reality is we can never eliminate it entirely. Our officers know that. And in wearing that uniform, our officers accept that. That, to me, is true heroism.”

Paul spoke of Len as a mentor on section and in the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS).

“Len loves his Armed Offenders. The ultimate team man. He was always first to go forward. So skilled, so intelligent and highly revered,” said Paul.

Senior Constable Grant Diver, who was seriously injured in the shooting, was wheeled into the funeral on a hospital bed. Wearing his tunic and AOS beret, he was taken outside to join the guard of honour, drawing more heart-felt applause from the community.

Before the hearse containing Len’s casket set off, a police helicopter swooped over the street and police lining the road broke into a rousing haka.

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