Story: Bidois, Louis Hekenui

Page 1: Biography

Bidois, Louis Hekenui

1899–1955

Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi; policeman

This biography, written by Jinty Rorke, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1998.

Louis Hekenui Bidois, commonly known as Heke, was born at Te Puna, near Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, on 28 March 1899, the son of Charles (Haare) Bidois, a farmer, and his wife, Pauline (Pōrina) Faulkner. Heke was a grandson of two early Tauranga traders, Frenchman Louis Bidois and Englishman John Lees Faulkner. His paternal grandmother was Erihāpeti Kaumoana of Pirirākau hapu of Ngāti Ranginui, and his maternal grandmother was Ruawahine from Ngāi Tūkairangi of Ngāi Te Rangi. After being educated in Tauranga, he worked as a farmer at Te Puna.

On 7 November 1927, at Tauranga, Bidois married Mary (Mere) Wynyard Garlick, whose mother, Maria Tapsell, was of Ngāti Whakaue. Twin boys, the sons of Mere's brother, were adopted in 1929 and a son was born in 1931. By 1928 Bidois was employed as a taxi driver, and by 1935 as a labourer. When he was working near Tauranga the local constable, Arthur Skinner, often called on him for help with matters concerning the Māori community. Skinner was impressed with Bidois and persuaded him to join the New Zealand Police Force. After some initial training, Bidois became district constable at Te Whaiti in the Urewera country on 13 May 1936. District constables were expected to supplement their pay by doing other work that did not interfere with their police duties. Bidois worked for the Department of Lands and Survey, undertaking contract cutting of windfall tōtara for fence-posts and strainers, carrying the logs out of the bush for collection.

Slightly under six feet in height and powerfully built, he was a keen rugby player, and was still playing in the scrum in 1948 when approaching the age of 50. He was a reserved man, in contrast to his wife, Mere, a cheerful, outgoing woman who provided meals cooked on her woodburning stove for visitors ranging from stock drovers and district nurses to cabinet ministers, and even the prime minister, Peter Fraser.

Bidois's district extended from Kaingaroa almost to Lake Waikaremoana. Access was difficult, with many villages accessible only on horseback. Rotorua was an hour and a half away, and a single party-line was the only telephone link to outside support services. Most of the problems he had to deal with involved the workers at the timber mills and in the road gangs.

During the 14 years he served at Te Whaiti Bidois faced many testing situations. He disarmed a crazed gunman, confronted groups of gamblers and confiscated moonshine liquor. He often had to venture into the isolated village of Maungapōhatu to arrest offenders who had gone into hiding there. Despite all this, the Te Whaiti gaol was seldom occupied and Bidois dealt with young Māori offenders by visiting them and their families at home.

An excellent bushman and hunter, Bidois often used his skills in rescue operations. One such rescue involved the artist Rei Hamon. When Hamon was camping in the bush, Bidois used to visit weekly on pig-hunting expeditions, and Hamon would stay with the Bidois family at weekends. One weekend he failed to arrive. Bidois became concerned and went up to the camp, where he found the artist very ill with pneumonia. Wrapping him in a blanket, he carried him on his back over the four miles to the township in less than an hour. Hamon was then cared for by Mere until he recovered.

Bidois worked as a full-time member of the force from 1 August 1945. However, because of his age he remained a 'temporary' constable. His career was brought to an end by injuries received when he was attacked in 1949 while trying to take two drunken men into custody. The men were sentenced to three months' imprisonment for assault. Bidois was transferred to Rotorua on permanent sick leave, and retired on 23 May 1953. He never recovered from the effects of the attack and died in Rotorua on 24 May 1955, survived by his wife and three children. James Cummings, when commissioner of police, had described Bidois as one of the finest Māori policemen in the force.

How to cite this page:

Jinty Rorke. 'Bidois, Louis Hekenui', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1998. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4b31/bidois-louis-hekenui (accessed 16 July 2020)