Thirty-eight new cops are graduating from their initial training at the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) today, Wednesday 24 June.
Like their police colleagues across New Zealand, they have deeply felt the loss of Constable Matthew Hunt, and will wear huia pins to honour him at their graduation.
Each pin is a stylised huia tail feather featuring the Police chevron, and symbolises the loss of someone special to Police.
The new constables are a talented group of people with plenty of life experience behind them.
Constable Tabitha Avery loves being a role model and inspiration to others.
She says all her achievements so far have taken hard work and determination – including becoming a police officer.
Tabitha has had an eight-year stint as an actress on Shortland Street, and has also acted in music videos, commercials, TV series and movies.
She has been a pro-wrestler for 20 years – combining a love of acting and sports – with her character, a super hero.
“I love super heroes. To me they represent helping people and giving people hope, and to me this is what Police is about.”
It was through acting that Tabitha first considered joining Police.
She was sent to audition for a New Cops commercial and one of the questions on the script was “Could you do it?”
“And I thought, ‘could I?’ And I decided I could, so that’s why I’m here.”
Tabitha is posted to Waitematā District.
Constable Michael Grendon grew up in South Africa where longboard surfing was a big part of his life.
He first competed at longboard surfing world champs as a 17 year old representing South Africa, but more recently represented New Zealand in 2019.
In January this year Michael’s passion for the ocean and riding waves saw him being in the right place at the right time to rescue two girls who were being swept out to sea.
He says over the years he has been able to help a lot of people in danger in the water.
“Helping others is my reason for joining Police, along with a desire to be a role model to my three young daughters and the greater community of Taranaki.”
Michael is posted to Central District.
Constable Gareth Williams, a father and grandfather, has been a Coastguard volunteer and it was during this time that he started to think about joining Police.
“The seed of community service was planted, but it was when my eldest daughter – an Authorised Officer who wants to become a police officer – took me along to a recruitment evening that becoming a police officer seemed to be the perfect fit.
I have a desire to serve and give back to the community, and wanted a change from my career of over 30 years working for IT and communications companies.”
Gareth is posted to Northland District.
The Leadership Award winner is Constable Sean Fabling, posted to Waitematā District.
It’s been back to basic training for Sean, who entered the Army a decade ago and spent six years serving in the Infantry.
Civilian life called to him – but only for a while.
“I have an affinity for public service, so I’m looking to Police for a rewarding job where I can serve my community.”
The top student in the wing is Constable Kirsten Craig, posted to Central District.
Kirsten has a double degree in management and psychology and has worked for the Department of Corrections as a probation officer and court officer.
Kirsten says her father, retired police officer Chris Craig, has been her role model and inspiration to join Police.
“I have tremendous respect for my father and his 25 years of police service.
As a child, I wanted to be just like him – his commitment to the safety and development of our community is second to none. For me, Police is an organisation where I can do my part to ensure that New Zealand remains a safe country.”
Along with Kirsten, a quarter of the wing has a degree, while a number of others have trade/higher learning qualifications.
Commissioner Andrew Coster and Police Minister the Hon Stuart Nash will be present at the ceremony today.
Minister’s Award recognising top student – Constable Kirsten Craig, Central District
Award for second top student – Constable Briallen McCabe, Auckland City District
Commissioner’s Award for Leadership – Constable Sean Fabling, Waitematā District
Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award – Constable Sean Fabling, Waitematā District
Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award – Constable Brittany Whelan, Southern District
Firearms Award – Constable Hugh Summers, Waitematā District
The new constables will have a one-week break before starting duties in their districts. The wing is being dispersed as follows:
Northland – 2
Waitematā – 6
Auckland – 7
Counties Manukau – 7
Waikato – 1
Bay of Plenty – 1
Eastern – 1
Central – 3
Wellington – 1
Canterbury – 7
Southern – 2