On Friday 25 September 2020, Matt Ratana was tragically killed whilst on duty in his role as a Met. Police custody sergeant.
Matt was born in the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand and was of proud Māori descent. He moved to England in 1989, working as a police officer for nearly 30 years. Matt also served with New Zealand Police, joining the British High Commission Wing in 2003 and working in the Auckland City and Counties Manukau districts, before returning to the UK in 2008.
Aside from his distinguished police service, Matt worked tirelessly as a rugby coach and dedicated mentor to many young people. He spoke passionately to the teams he led on the importance of ‘Whānau’, the sacred Māori concept of family and community.
He was fiercely committed and inclusive, engaging wholeheartedly with everyone he met, and encouraging all ages to embrace the supportive welcome of the rugby family.
The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation will work to build a legacy worthy of this inspirational leader, teacher and friend.
We have five pillars that make up "The Whānau way" . These were Matt's values focused on young people and the wider community.
BBC's news section on Matt and his importance
BT sport and EGRFC Tribute to Matt Ratana.
Coaches and Captains pay tribute to Matt
As well as his influential involvement in the rugby community, Matt was a popular and respected personality in Sussex gym circles. He brought the same uncompromising drive and inspiration, never happy unless he was busy organising, mentoring and bringing the best out of all those around him. In short, Matt encouraged others to push themselves to new goals, in the same way that he refused to settle for second best himself, as witnessed by some pretty serious achievements in weightlifting competition.
Matt’s colleagues and friends at South Coast Gym, led by Neil Donohue (pictured below with Matt), responded to the sadness and shock of their loss by pulling together supportively. Their annual event, Lancing’s Strongest, became a fundraiser last year, providing gym equipment dedicated to Matt’s memory. This year they went one further by raising a magnificent £1700 for the Foundation, alongside another worthy cause, Veterans’ Lifeline.
This magnificent firepit, conceived and created by Valerie Kruse, and kindly donated by Fred Wilson, was presented to EGRFC as a lasting memorial to Matt. To all the wonderful folk at South Coast Gym we extend heartfelt appreciation for their support and generosity.