Constable Neil McLeod

Shot at the railing

Policeman killed: “A dreadful affair” near Dargaville.

Believed to be the first police officer in New Zealand to lose his life in the line of duty, Constable Neil McLeod was shot and killed by gum-digger Henry Funcke, while aboard the steamer Minnie Casey at Mangawhare Wharf (near Dargaville).

McLeod his wife and family were travelling to Auckland, having boarded the steamer at Dargaville.

Funcke also came aboard there, with a gun, a concealed revolver and a knife. Funcke was very noisy during the trip, and the captain of the Minnie Casey took away his gun. Just after the steamer left Mangawhare Wharf, he threatened to shoot some of the passengers if he did not get his gun back. The steamer put back to Mangawhare Wharf, and Constables McLeod and Scott took Funcke ashore. From the shore Funcke once more demanded his gun as the Minnie Casey left again, and fired five shots at the departing steamer. Standing at the railing, McLeod was hit in the chest by the third shot. He exclaimed "My God!" and died.

The steamer returned to Dargaville, where McLeod's body was taken off. A group of settlers armed themselves with rifles, and led by Constables Scott and Carr, walked back to Mangawhare Wharf in pursuit. The group found Funcke still at the wharf, and demanded he surrender. He lifted up his hands as if to fire and was shot twice, in the groin and chest, fell, and was arrested.

McLeod's body was taken to Auckland for burial.

In an article in the Northern Advocate newspaper, McLeod was described as a “Fine, genial, sturdy Scotchman, a very warm-hearted man, and was generally liked.”

Although it is known that he was buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery, his grave cannot be located now.

  • <p><em>Image courtesy of the New Zealand Police Museum Collection.</em></p>
  • <p>The Wairoa River near Dargaville, where Constable McLeod was shot.</p>
  • <p>A Terrible Tragedy. <em>Northern Advocate , 2 August 1890, Page 2.</em></p>
  • <p>The inland waterway of the Wairoa River, at Dargaville and Mangawhare, 18 April 1912. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19120418-8-2.</em></p>