Wellington              -       A man charged with the murder of an unarmed policeman that shocked New Zealand made a brief court appearance in Auckland on Saturday. Constable Matthew Hunt, 28, was gunned down during a routine traffic stop on Friday and the killing has stunned the normally peaceful country where police do not routinely carry firearms.

He is the 23rd officer to be shot dead in the line of duty in New Zealand since 1890, with the previous fatal shooting more than 10 years ago. All details surrounding the identity of the 24-year-old arrested man were suppressed.

He spoke briefly to confirm his name but otherwise remained silent and did not enter a plea during the brief hearing in which he was remanded in custody to reappear early next month. The man appeared via video link from another part of the courthouse due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.  Police have confirmed they are still searching for a 30-year-old woman who is wanted as an accessory after the fact to the murder.

Hunt, who joined the police three years ago and only recently transferred to the traffic enforcement division, was approaching a crashed car when the gunman opened fire.

Another officer was wounded and a bystander seriously injured when the attacker drove off in another vehicle. Crown prosecutor David Johnstone told the court the case was of high public interest and sought “somewhat extensive suppression orders” -- including the names of the accused, the injured police officer and the member of the public injured in the incident. He said the suppression was to “protect the integrity of the investigation”, and the police had a “significant amount of work to do” on the inquiry.