75 years of Policewomen firsts

Everything was a first for women and many firsts have only just been achieved.

New Zealand Policewomen 75 years timeline

Year Notable firsts
1938 The Statutes Amendment Act passed – Section45 provided the authority to introduce women police into New Zealand.
1941 In June the first 10 policewomen were recruited. They had to be between the ages of 25 and 40 years and unmarried or widowed and able to use a typewriter. After training they were sent to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin where they were attached to the detective branch as temporary constables. They did not wear uniform.
1941 Constable Edna Pearce was seconded to the Department of Internal Affairs to take charge of an internment camp for Japanese women and children.
1945 Policewomen were allowed to join the Police Association.
1946 Members of the New Zealand Police Force had to gain permission to marry. When Constables Peggy McKenzie and Bill Hedley, the first sworn couple to “tie the knot” applied, the Commissioner passed their request to the Prime Minister for him to make the decision.
1947 Policewomen were granted permanent appointment
1948 Constables Rose Dudfield and Flora McDonald spend three months in Sydney on an exchange working with Australian policewomen.
1949 A total of 52 policewomen had been trained but only 39 remained as most left when they married.
1950 Constable Josephine Brophy becomes a police driver delivering constables to enquiries, escorting prisoners and delivering documents.
1951 Policewomen are officially recognised and their appointments appear in the New Zealand Police Gazette for the first time.
1952 Policewomen are issued with uniforms.
1953 Constables Molly Sim and Nora Crawford are permitted to train as detectives.
1954 Commissioner Compton issues a new policy not to approve the marriage of a policewoman while she is still in the force.
1956 Policewomen train with their male colleagues for the first time. They make up 3.20% of the force.
1957 First policewomen appointed as detectives.
Pamela Anderson is the first woman recruit to gain the Minister’s Prize.
1958 All provincial HQ stations except Timaru have policewomen.
1959 Maternity leave of up to 6 months granted.
1961 Detective Elizabeth Bennett promoted to sergeant in charge of Auckland’s women’s division.
1963 Policewomen in training taught to handle .32 calibre Colt pistols and .303 calibre rifles.
1965 Commissioner Spencer advocates equal pay for policewomen and Cabinet approves.
1966 Commissioner Spencer disbands the women’s division and directs that policewomen be employed on all general policing duties.
Sgt Elizabeth Bennett is promoted to Inspector, Detective Jean Dougal to Detective Sergeant and Edna Pearce (W1) retires after 25 years of service.
1969 There are 69 policewomen.
1970 74 policewomen 2.37% of the sworn establishment. Commissioner Sharp reactivates the earlier initiatives of Commissioner Spencer to fully integrate policewomen into the service.
1971 Constable Dorothy Parkes is promoted to Sergeant, the first to be put in charge of a duty section. Constable Stephanie Butel becomes the first female radio technician.
1972 Detective Sergeant Jean Dougall, the first policewoman to be appointed to full-time prosecution duties.
1973 Constable Helen Price is the first woman full-time tele-printer operator and Constable Hazel Nash is the first to join a search and rescue squad.
1974 Permission is given for the optional extra of long leather boots to be worn with the short and fashionable uniform skirts.
1975 Linley Shute is the first policewoman to be named NZ Police sportsperson of the year.
1976 The new vitric blue uniform introduced.
1977 Human Rights Commission Act S 16(1) allowed police to discriminate against women at recruitment level. The executive agree that policewomen should make up no more than 4% of the service. Number currently 190 (4.39%).
The debate about whether policewomen should be allowed to wear trousers begins.
Jean Dougall promoted to Detective Inspector.
1979 First women photographers appointed (Constables Rosemary Gibson and Robin Christian) and senior fingerprint technician (Sergeant Anne Waugh).
1980 210 policewomen (4.23%). Sergeant Paula Stevens posted to Greymouth the first woman to be in charge of a smaller station.
1981 40 years of women in policing celebrated with a dinner in Hamilton attended by Commissioner Bob Walton.
Constable Marie-Therese Scott graduates with the first Diploma of Police Studies at Massey University.
The Springbok Tour and a few policewomen are issued with shields, helmets and Monadrock PR 24 batons.
1982 Dame Te Atairangikaahu Cadet Wing – the first to have female cadets (2 graduate in 1983 when the cadet system is suspended).
The first recruit wing with more female recruits than males is attested. Wing 82 has 12 women and 11 men.
1984 Ann Hercus, MP for Lyttleton becomes the first female Minister of Police.
Constable Lynne Clark is appointed a District Arms Officer.
1985 Constable Lorraine Parkinson (93 Wing) is the first mother to graduate from the Police College. Prior to this women with dependent children were not accepted as recruits.
Constable Elaine Tunnell is appointed the first female Community Constable.
Detective Cushla Watson, the first policewoman to be sent out of New Zealand on an investigative brief, goes to France and the United Kingdom to seek answers in the Rainbow Warrior case.
Constable Rosalie Sterritt retires – the first policewoman to receive the 35 year long service award.
1986 A policewoman appears on a New Zealand stamp designed by Allen Mitchell.
Detective Nora Crawford is the first policewoman to be a Wing patron.
Sergeant Anne Waugh the first female recruit instructor at the Police College.
1988 The Service focuses on the difficulties in recruiting women.
Wellington policewomen set up a support group – principal concern was that the service was not going to take notice of the EEO legislation in the new Police Act due to come into force in 1989. Groups were set up in other districts soon after.
Constable Carmen Dickison receives a Gold Merit Award for bravery.
1989 355 policewomen (6.5%). 14 Sergeants, 3 Senior Sergeants, 2 Inspectors. 2.6% achieved rank compared to 26% of male staff.
EEO Unit set up at the Police College ‘manned’ by Inspector Lindsay Todd and Constable Steve Kay.
A uniform was designed to be worn when pregnant.
Three policewomen (Constables Pauline Blakelock, Dawn Bell and Helen Rushton) go to Namibia to serve with the UN Transition Assistance Group.
Constable Marlene Rangi receives a special performance of duties.
1990 Constable Pamela Chipman becomes the first female member of the Police Air Support Unit.
1991 Policewomen celebrate 50 years with a number of events including a reunion for 350 former and serving members.
Recruiting age limit is relaxed to allow former policewomen to re-join and others to commence after having children.
Constable Roseanne Rix becomes the first policewoman to be a certified firearms instructor.
Constable Shane Collins of Dunedin selected for an Armed Offenders Course.
1992 Merger of the Traffic Safety Service with Police (1561 staff including 42 female warranted traffic officers become police officers). They bring with them the experience of working within a well-established EEO programme.
Constable Wendy Robilliard is the first policewoman to be part of an operational armed offenders group. Inspector Paula Stevens takes command of the Christchurch armed offenders squad.
1993 Rena Keightly is the first grandmother to graduate from the Police College.
Women in Policing Consultative Committee set up. Internal survey re: sexual harassment. 62% of all female staff felt that they had been victims. (NB This was in line with surveys conducted in other government departments).
Constable Angela Morris joins the Dive Squad after completing a Navy dive course.
1995 Policewomen now 13.2% of the service.
Constable Debbie Grumball joins the Dog Section with her police dog ‘Jake’.
1996 Skirts disappear and trousers become standard uniform items.
Constable Fiona Paiere is the first woman to be in charge of a ‘one man’ station (at Tokomaru Bay).
A pregnancy policy is introduced which includes guidelines for continuing employment.
1997 Flexible employment option policy introduced to allow part-time and job sharing opportunities.
1998 New Zealand Police host the Australasian Women in Policing Advisory Committee where an assessment plan is developed to give an overview of the major issues relating to policewomen in Australia and New Zealand.
Two Women in Policing Conferences are held in New Zealand to discuss issues.
The Commissioner includes EEO in all business and management strategies.
Constable Julie Hinton-Cooper first female motorcycle officer.
Anne Waugh is appointed the first female Area Commander for New Plymouth.
1999 Inspector Sandra Manderson is promoted to Superintendent – National Manager of organisational performance.
In ten years the number of policewomen has grown from 334 to 1068 and female recruits make up 25.4% of a recruit wing.
2000 The campaign begins to recruit more Māori, Pacific Island and Asian recruits to better reflect New Zealand’s multicultural society.
All staff attend inclusiveness training to develop better understanding of the gay community.
Acting Superintendent Paula Stevens is the first women to command a New Zealand Police contingent on a UN assignment in East Timor.
2001 Constable Karen Vaughn is sworn in as a police officer in Pitcairn Island and spends several months travelling back and forth, also spending time in to England, Australia and Norfolk Islands interviewing and examining crime scenes in connection with Operation Unique.
60 years of women in policing is celebrated with a seminar and formal dinner at the Royal New Zealand Police College.
CivilianLyn Provost is appointed Deputy Commissioner, the first female to hold a commissioner rank.
2002 Superintendent Sandra Manderson was appointed as Canterbury District Commander, the first female District Commander in New Zealand.
Ten Percent, an on-line newsletter is founded to give information for gay and lesbian staff. Diversity Liaison Officers are appointed.
2003 The flexible employment policy is implemented improving the lot of all staff with family responsibilities.
A Women in Policing Plan was produced aimed at recruiting more women in the police, to promote an organisation that values, inspires and empowers women to maximise their aspirations and retain them in the job. It was also designed to support the needs and aspirations of Māori, Pacific and other ethnic women in policing.
2006 Policewomen statistics for this year include 3 Superintendents, 11 Inspectors, 16 Senior Sergeants, 98 Sergeants, 1048 Constables.
2007 The Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct is released. Dame Margaret Bazely is the author. She makes 60 recommendation for change concerning the way New Zealand Police deal with women, both inside and outside the organisation. Specific to women in Police Bazely recommends that :
R50 NZ Police should continue to increase the numbers of women and those from ethnic minority groups in order to promote a diverse organisational culture that reflects the community it serves
R51 The State Services Commissioner is to carry out an annual health of the organisation check to audit police culture (in particular, whether the organisation provides a safe environment for female staff and staff from minority groups).
Policewomen make up 16.6% of constabulary strength
Diversity Liaison Officers in place.
Women’s Leadership Development Programme in place.
Women’s Police History is published; Tact & Tenacity by Val Redshaw.
Superintendent Sandra Manderson became the first female International Liaison Officer. She was appointed to the Americas and based in Washington DC.
2008 Superintendent Paula Rose is appointed National Manager Road Policing.
2009 First bi-lingual New Zealand Sign Language Constable Debi Leahy.
2009 Constable Angela Taylor the first woman appointed PPO Principal Protection Officer to the Prime Minster on the Diplomatic Protection Squad.
2010 First woman appointed Head of School of Patrol & Operational Policing at the RNZPC Inspector Tania Kura.
2011 First female to die while performing her duty Pam Brien, office administrator of the Christchurch Child Protection Team, when the CTV building collapsed in the Canterbury Earthquake.
Detective Sergeant Tusha Penny is appointed Manager of Child Protection and Adult Sexual Assault in the national crime group.
9.9% of Senior Sergeants are women.
2012 The first all women Police Station at Wainuiomata led by Sergeant Tania Van Ooyen.
Recognition by the Australasian Council of Women in Policing for the contribution of three officers: Inspector Karen Henrikson – most outstanding female leader, Detective Kate Smith – most outstanding female investigator, Constable Lexlei Taylor – most outstanding female administrator.
2013 Out of the 240 recruits in 2012-13, 30.8% were women.
2014 Reality TV series Women in Blue is launched, showcasing the work of New Zealand Policewomen on national network TV One.
The Women’s Advisory Network (WAN) is established across the districts.
2015 Wing 290’s patron is Louise Nicholas, the central figure in Operation Austin, an internal inquiry into police rape and sexual abuse. Her complaints triggered the 2007 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct. Louise works across New Zealand as an advocate for survivors of rape and sexual abuse.
2015 Overall women make up 30.6% of the staff of New Zealand Police, including 1,721 constabulary staff – a 10% increase on 2010 levels
First female crew member of the Lady Elizabeth IV takes up duty, Constable Paula Tanuvasa
2016 Both Recommendation 50 & 51 of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct are considered complete

As of 30th April 2016, women comprised 32.19% of all New Zealand Police staff and 19.8% of constabulary staff.
By rank:
Constable 21.4%
Sergeant 11.6%
Senior Sergeant 11.4%
Inspector 12.3%
Superintendent 14%

As of 30th April 2021, women comprised 35.8% of all New Zealand Police staff and 23.5% of constabulary staff.

By rank:
Constable 26.7%
Sergeant 14.3%
Senior Sergeant 14.8%
Inspector 15.9%
Superintendent 15.8%
Assistant Commissioner 30.0%
Deputy Commissioner 25.0%