Peninsula lawman to step down

After 34 years as the sole-charge officer on the Otago Peninsula, Senior Constable Lox Kellas has...
After 34 years as the sole-charge officer on the Otago Peninsula, Senior Constable Lox Kellas has called time on his career in the New Zealand Police. PHOTO:GREGOR RICHARDSON
After more than 30 years as the face of policing on the Otago Peninsula, Senior Constable Lox Kellas will return to civilian life next month.

On April 20, Snr Const Kellas (71) will carry out his duties as the solo officer at the Portobello police station for the last time.

``It was just time to go and I'm ready to go. You're only a steward, so you can't become a gate keeper.''

During his time in Portobello he had dealt with unexploded World War 2 bombs, a beached whale, cars in Otago Harbour and any number of road accidents. It was all just part of the job, he said.

Inevitably, there were also times when he was the person standing at someone's door in the middle of the night telling them a loved one was dead.

Many of those people were friends.

``It can take a toll and present challenges from time to time but at the end of the day you've still got to go and do it.''

Portobello was a vastly different place when he took up the job in January 1984 - the town was not connected to the city's sewerage system and tourist buses instead of camper vans filled the peninsula's roads.

The sole-charge officer was now responsible for up to 10,000 residents and the thousands of tourists who flocked to the peninsula each year.

``Each community is different and has their own needs and wants.''

Rural and solo policing was not for everyone and it needed a specific skill set to succeed and sometimes a quiet word in someone's ear was more effective than anything else.

``You can't go around with a stern face all the time, because you have to live in the area, so you want to go out socialising from time to time and your kids might go to school here.

``So there is a bar and you don't go below it but at the same time there's a standard I've always maintained and it's worked well for me.''

It was hard to pinpoint any incident which stood out above the rest, as there had been both highs and lows, he said.

``If there was one period of time which was challenging it would have been 1991, because we had Aramoana and a number of drownings and suicides out here.''

Outside the police station, Snr Const Kellas has been involved in the Returned Services Association and the Coast Guard, and has been president of both.

He had also represented Portobello on the Otago Peninsula Community Board, all of which helped him as a police officer.

``What you've got to remember in sole-charge areas [is] often it's the policeman who is the only regulatory person available in an emergency, so we've got to keep that rapport with key people in the community.''

The one key piece of advice he had for his replacement was ``just be yourself''.

Once he steps down from the role, Snr Const Kellas said he had a new house to move into, family to visit and possibly a few beers to drink.

Add a Comment