Mother of slain police officer Matthew Hunt lodges petition in Parliament to 'offer safety' to cops

On what would have been her son's 29th birthday, the mother of slain Auckland policeman Matthew Hunt has lodged a petition in Parliament to "offer a level of safety" to other officers.

Hunt was tragically shot dead while carrying out a routine traffic stop in the west Auckland suburb of Massey on June 19. When Hunt approached the vehicle, a man got out armed with a firearm and fired multiple shots at Hunt and his colleague, killing him.

The petition, on the Parliament website, calls on the House of Representatives to "urgently amend the Sentencing Act 2002 and Parole Act 2002 to automatically decline parole eligibility for offenders convicted of the murder of police officers".

In New Zealand, those convicted of murder are generally sentenced to life imprisonment. Under Section 103 of the Sentencing Act, this allows those who kill police officers to be eligible for parole after 10 years - something Hunt's grieving mother Diane wants changed.

Her petition had already garnered more than 8000 signatures at the time of publishing. It still has more than a month left to run before the September 1 deadline.

In an emotional Facebook post on Thursday, Diane explained she had launched the petition to protect other frontline police officers. 

"Rather than being able to celebrate my son's day, I have started a petition which has been lodged with Parliament asking for parole and sentencing reform for the murder of police officers in New Zealand," she wrote.

"Matthew deserved a life. He had so much to live for. He loved serving his country as a police officer, a role he thrived in.

"I have started this petition to offer a level of safety to our 14,000 serving police officers, Matthew's police family. If you feel the same please sign the petition and share. Thank you.

"We love you Matthew. This should never have happened."

In explaining why the petition had been lodged, Diane said she doesn't believe New Zealand's sentencing laws adequately condemn actions resulting in the death of police officers.

"If you truly believe what was said by numerous politicians after Matthew's death that police lives matter, passing this legislation should be done without delay," she wrote.

A 24-year-old man has been charged over the murder of Hunt. The accused has denied the charge, as well as one for attempted murder of Hunt's colleague and dangerous driving causing injury.

He appeared in Auckland High Court earlier this month alongside 30-year-old woman Natalie Bracken, who police allege was an accessory after the fact to the murder. She has also denied her charges.

The murder-accused was granted interim name suppression at his first appearance in court in June but this may be revoked on Friday, pending a decision by Justice Geoffrey Venning.

His trial is due to go ahead in July 2021.