Overview of 75 years of women in Police

This is an important milestone for NZ Police as an organisation. There have been many changes to NZ Police over the past 75 years and we are proud of the women who have been part of that growth and have forged the way for other women in the organisation.

We are also proud of the women who are currently taking the organisation forward today and who are represented in many diverse roles within police.

We are fortunate to have many of the women from the first decades still with us, who have been able to share their stories and photos which we can capture electronically and keep for generations to come.

When did the first women go into Police training in New Zealand?

The first ten women went into Police training on June 3rd, 1941 in a house on Rintoul Street Newtown, Wellington. Prior to then women were in involved in policing as Police wives in the many small sole Constable communities throughout New Zealand, and also in the role of matrons with their early main role being to search and care for female prisoners.

How did this compare with other countries?

While New Zealand may have been the first to give women the vote, other countries were earlier to implement trained female Police staff.

Australia (New South Wales) recently celebrated their 100th Anniversary of women in police. In the United Kingdom the first woman was granted arresting powers in 1915, and the first American police woman was appointed in 1910.

Are there any women alive from the first intake of women?

Sadly, there are no women still alive from the very first intake, but we have been able to trace three women from the third intake in 1943. These are Marie Storey (nee Nixon) who lives Raumati, Evelyn Kingi (nee Owen) from Dargaville and Janet Sneddon (nee Pope) who lives in Manurewa.

We are also aware of two women from the 1948 intake: Joyce Jensen who lives in Paraparaumu and Rosalie Sterritt, who lives in Christchurch.

Who are the senior women in New Zealand Police today?

  • Superintendent Sandra Manderson, National Manager International Services Group, Police National Headquarters
  • Superintendent Anna Jackson, National Manager Professional Standards, Police National Headquarters
  • Superintendent Tusha Penny, National Manager Prevention, Police National Headquarters
  • Superintendent Sandra Venables, District Commander, Eastern
  • Superintendent Karyn Malthus, District Commander, Tasman District
  • Superintendent Sue Schwalger, District Commander, Central District
  • Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas, Deputy Director, OFCANZ

There are also women on the Police Executive, Deputy Chief Executive, Karen Jones and Acting Deputy Chief Executive, People, Kaye Ryan.

What are the current statistics for women in Policing?

As at 30th April 2016, women comprised 32.2 percent of all New Zealand Police staff and 18.9 percent (1669) of 8831 constabulary staff.

By contrast, five years ago 17.3 percent (1524) of 8788 constabulary staff were women.

The 2011 percentage is shown in brackets below:

By the ranks:

Constable 21.4% (19.8%)
Sergeant 11.6% (10.4%)
Senior Sergeant 11.4% (10.1%)
Inspector 12.3% (8.5%)
Superintendent 14.0% (4.8%)

What activities and events are planned for the 75th?

On June 3 the Minister of Police and the Police Commissioner will formally mark the anniversary of 75 years of women in NZ Police.  This event will also launch a year of celebrations that are aimed at raising the profile of NZ Police as a career option for talented women. There will be a line up of historic women’s police uniforms at the event as well as a number of retired and current female police staff.

At dawn on June 24, a torch relay will start simultaneously from Bluff and Cape Reinga.  Police staff will carry two sections of a torch, one from each end of the country. They will engage with different community groups along the way to celebrate the milestone. Police staff in all districts via their Women’s Advisory Networks have come up with events and special ways of transporting their section of the torch to Wellington.

On August 1, the relay will culminate in a National Parade through the streets of Wellington from Civic Square to Parliament where the two sections of the torch will be joined together. Police Districts will send representatives and Police recruits from the College will attend the march. Retired staff will also be invited to participate. There will be old Police cars featured, the Police Pipe Band, Police horses, Police Dogs and other entertainment.

An exhibition will be launched in September at the Police Museum which will feature stories, videos from a range of current women working in Police today and artefacts from the last 75 years.

For further information on the 75th Anniversary, check out profiles of retired and current staff.

Police’s Current Recruitment Campaign

The “Do you care enough to be a cop” Police recruitment campaign aims to reach out to 18-29 year olds, and in particular women, and Māori, Pasifika, Chinese, Indian, Latin American, African and Middle Eastern people so we better represent the diverse communities we serve.

The underlying proposition behind the campaign is that Police are looking for people who care about the safety of the people in their communities. And in particular people who care enough to want to make a difference.

Police has also implemented several initiatives to ‘normalise’ the idea of women in police roles, including the top rating reality TV show Women in Blue to boost female recruitment. The second series of Women in Blue is currently in production.