by Helen Martin
Although she’s only been our Community Constable since September 2019, Melissa Haven has a long association with Helensville. She went to Kaipara College, as did her father, it’s where she met her future husband Liam Haven, whose family are established locals. Liam is also a Constable at Helensville Police Station. “Because Liam works shifts, we sometimes see each other more at work than at home,” says Melissa. He is also a member of the local volunteer Fire Brigade. The couple live locally with their two daughters.
While Liam joined the Police Force five years ago, having first worked as a plumber, Melissa joined a trainee programme on leaving school. “My brother-in-law was in the Police and when they came to a careers’ day at school it got my attention. It seemed like an exciting job, with no two days the same, and I liked the idea of the camaraderie and the fitness side of things.” After the six-month trainee programme, where Melissa was introduced to subjects like law, diversity and ethics, she went to Police College, graduating in December 2003. For the next 16 years her work included the front line in Henderson, community work in Massey, front line and community work in Kumeu and the family harm unit in Orewa.
As our Community Constable Melissa works with community groups and schools. She’s the Police liaison for the community patrol. “The patrol volunteers are a real asset to the Police, particularly in a rural setting as we sometimes don’t have the manpower to cover such a large area alone”, she says. “They’re doing a wonderful job keeping it running, and we want to increase the number of volunteers to make even more of an impact. “She also works closely alongside Neighbourhood Support, providing coordinator Margaret Faed with information to send out to her street coordinators and attending neighbourhood meetings. Again, the aim is to encourage more people to join.
Melissa explains that Helensville Station is fully staffed, with a Sergeant, two officers on prevention, (herself and Youth Aid Officer Lou Unkovich), and six public safety team (PST) officers, who work on the front line attending 111 calls. When there’s more than one call-out, Community Constables are also required on the front line. The large area the station covers runs from Woodhill to the top of South Head, including the beach, Kaukapakapa, Makarau, Glorit, and Waitoki. With their station considered part of Tamaki Makaurau, Melissa and her colleagues are often called to support events in Auckland City like the Royal Visit and Christmas in the Park. As part of Rodney, they’re required at events like the Matakana New Years’ Eve celebrations and the infamous Crate Day.
The new non-emergency 105 number has recently been established to take the strain off the emergency 111 number. There was a time, not so long ago, when disorderly behaviour and graffiti were an issue in Helensville, says Melissa, but we seldom have those issues now, thanks partly to the presence of the Community Patrol. Burglaries and car break-ins are ongoing and take up much police time. There’s always intense public interest when the police helicopter turns up. “If you see the Eagle helicopter out here it may be that someone’s decamped from committing a Crime, like a burglary or from a stolen car. It could be following a pursuit or looking for a missing person.” There’s more of a police presence now because they’re fully staffed. “My goal is to get out there more and be the person who’s seen. I’m working on getting to know all the business owners, giving people a chance to chat about their issues.”
Melissa loves her job. “Helensville was somewhere I’d always eventually wanted to work. I think it’s a cool little rural community. Compared to larger communities growing and losing their community focus there are so many community groups here that really invest in the people, and lots of volunteers doing awesome work. This job has its ups and downs, but I enjoy it. I want to give this role a good go because I feel passionate about the place.”
by Helen Martin