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A new boy in blue is patrolling the Catlins.

New sole charge officer of the Owaka police station is 50-year-old Senior Constable Riki Valentine, who has been in the police for 18 years.

Three weeks ago, he and his wife Alicia moved from Tauranga, where they have lived for over 30 years, and have been settling into sharply-contrasting small-town South Otago.

Snr Const Valentine said he had been looking for a change that would allow him to focus on helping communities more deeply when he came across the Catlins posting.

He said his career to date had covered frontline policing, traffic, court escort and riot squads, the latter seeing him involved in the TPPA and Navy protests in Auckland.

‘‘I felt I could be doing more in my job and really focus on bettering my community. Other staff that had left the area made me think about the option of policing elsewhere,’’ he said.

‘‘When I saw the opportunity open up here I was really keen, and knew I could apply my full potential to the town.’’

He said he had been given a warm initial welcome by locals.

‘‘People have been friendly and approachable, and I’m sure they’ll be co-operative with me in keeping Owaka a safe place to live.’’

He was keen to settle within the community.

‘‘I want to not just be the cop, I hope to be a mate too.

‘‘I have an attitude-driven policing style and believe in giving people chances. I am firm but fair and I don’t take kindly to resisting arrest or assault. I’ll learn and adapt to suit the people of Owaka.’’

He said he was looking forward to exploring what the district had to offer.

‘‘I haven’t had the chance to go hunting, fishing or diving which are my hobbies, but I’ll get around to it some time.

‘‘I did play 18 holes of golf for the first time the other day, which was both fun and frustrating, but I enjoyed it.’’