Fifty-six new cops will be graduating from their initial training at the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) on Thursday 16 July.
From a singer to a rugby star and from a bagpiper to a haka leader, these talented new constables bring plenty of fresh air – and strong lungs – to Police.
Constable Sahara McDonald is also known as singer and songwriter Sahara Skye. After releasing a cover of a song that went viral on Facebook, Sahara was given an opportunity to write with some well-known songwriters in Los Angeles, Sydney and New York. She released a debut single, Expectations, in 2018 and opened for Pink in Auckland that same year.
Sahara is performing another role now, as a new constable posted to Waitematā District. Policing is in her family, with her father having served as a police officer in Dunedin for 10 years.
“Seeing my father serve in the community gave me a fire in my belly to be a part of what I regard as a selfless service. I also believe in the small things making a difference. Being able to positively influence someone’s life that may be going in the wrong direction is well worth the challenge of being in the New Zealand Police.”
Sahara has an important task to complete at her graduation – she will be stepping out of the line-up and into the limelight – singing the national anthem at the start of the ceremony.
Constable Toby Smith has played high-level rugby for many years. He has played in Waikato for the Chiefs, in Melbourne for the Rebels, and in Wellington for the Hurricanes. He says a highlight of his rugby career was playing for Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
It was voluntary work in Samoa alongside New Zealand Police and NZ Aid, raising awareness around family harm, that prompted him to think of his move out of rugby and into policing.
“I was interacting with Samoan locals and communities, using sport and education as a vehicle to drive home important messages around the prevention of family harm. This experience is where my interest in policing began and it grew from there,” says Toby.
“I’m immensely proud to be serving my community in this new role.”
Toby is posted to Waikato District.
Constable Rachael Walkinshaw has been involved in her local pipe band in Whangārei for almost 20 years, and it was through playing the bagpipes that she had the opportunity to work at the Tower of London as a White Tower Warden and Tower Bagpiper.
In her White Tower Warden role Rachael conducted tours of the White Tower, sharing her knowledge of its history, artefacts and significant people and events. She also piped at the tower for functions and ceremonies.
“A large part of my reason for joining the New Zealand Police has stemmed from my Nana,” she says.
“My whole life, she has always helped out and done things for people. She is 90 now and still does what she can for others. When my younger brother joined his local Volunteer Fire Brigade, it really resonated with me and challenged me to consider what I could do to be more involved with my community.”
Rachael is posted to Northland District.
The Leadership Award winner is Constable Xavier Henare, also posted to Northland District.
Xavier has taken a lead in encouraging and guiding the wing with the haka they will perform at the end of their graduation ceremony.
A descendant of Sir James Henare, Xavier was raised by his grandparents with the values of manaakitanga and whānau to the fore.
“My ‘why’ for becoming a police officer is that growing up I saw and experienced many of the hardships that plague most small towns up in Northland,” he says.
“Gang activity, alcoholism, family violence and drug use were just everyday things which we had to ‘get used to’. I want to be able to help those communities and be a role model that other young people who grew up with those issues can look up to.”
He is inspired by a whakataukī from Sir James Henare: Kua tawhiti kē to haerenga mai, kia kore e haere tonu. He nui rawa o mahi, kia kore e mahi tonu. You have come too far not to go further, you have done too much not to do more.
The wing is a diverse group of people, with over 27 percent from ethnicities other than NZ European. Around 30 percent of the wing members have a degree, such as the top student in the wing, Constable Gareth Rodda.
Gareth, posted to Canterbury District, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology. He has worked for Customs and Immigration, both roles reinforcing his desire to join Police.
“I spent a lot of time working alongside current and former cops hearing about the camaraderie and all the great opportunities within the organisation. I want to serve my country and my community and I see policing as the best way to do that.”
Deputy Commissioner Glenn Dunbier and Police Minister the Hon Stuart Nash will be present at Thursday’s ceremony.
Minister’s Award recognising top student – Constable Gareth Rodda, Canterbury District
Award for second top student – Constable Josip Arandelovic, Auckland City District
Commissioner’s Award for Leadership – Constable Xavier Henare, Northland District
Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award – Constable Byron Grant, Counties Manukau District
Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award – Constable Olivia Scott, Southern District
Firearms Award – Constable Emily Jensen, Auckland City District
The new constables will have a one-week break before starting duties in their districts. The wing is being dispersed as follows:
Northland – 3
Waitematā – 7
Auckland City – 10
Counties Manukau – 9
Waikato – 5
Bay of Plenty – 4
Eastern – 2
Central – 4
Wellington – 3
Tasman – 1
Canterbury – 5
Southern – 3