Wednesday, 27 July 2022 - 2:26pm |
National News

Champions and local heroes: New cops to graduate tomorrow

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Graduation photo

Seventy-six recruits will be attested as constables and graduate from their initial training on Thursday.

The wing members will be deployed to every Police district in New Zealand.

They are a diverse group of people who have worked in roles such as Corrections and Customs officers, a trekking guide and industrial abseiler, plumber, chef, and a past member of the Black Ferns.

Recruit Linda Itunu represented New Zealand in the Black Ferns for 17 years, playing in both the 15s and 7s format of rugby and captaining the Barbarians team in 2019. She has competed in six Women’s Rugby World Cups and has been a member of a World Cup champion team four times. Her highlights have included receiving the Sir Fred Allen Award for Auckland Rugby in 2019 and being part of the team that was named the World Rugby Team of the Decade in 2020.

Linda hung up her rugby boots in 2019 to pursue a Police career. She says she’s joined Police to be part of a high-performance team, a role model to her nieces, nephews and Pasifika communities, and to work for a safer and better New Zealand.

Linda will be posted to Waitematā District.

Recruit Gary Mitchell JP has been a member of Police for nearly a decade, previously working as a custody and authorised officer in Wellington District, where he will be posted after graduation.

During his time as an authorised officer and previously as a Corrections officer, he earned numerous awards, commendations and certificates from Police, including a Police Woolf Fisher Fellowship, and from the Department of Corrections, such as its Minister’s Award for Excellence.

A keen volunteer, his roles include White Ribbon Ambassador, Justice of the Peace, Honorary Fisheries Officer and more. Gary has received many awards recognising that work, including New Zealander of the Year Local Hero Medal in 2016; Safety in the City Civic Award Winner 2017; Finalist in the 2018 Wellingtonian of the Year Awards; Keep New Zealand Beautiful Tidy Kiwi Award Winner in 2020; Volunteer of the Year Aroha Mahi Volunteer New Zealand, Robert Burns International Humanitarian Award Finalist, Absolutely Positively Wellington Civic Award and Keep New Zealand Beautiful Local Hero Award in 2021; and in 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero Medal, and Porirua City Council Civic Award.

As a British Royal Navy veteran Gary has also been commended in the past for bravery and for saving a life.

He says he’s making the move to a constabulary role because he’s looking for a new challenge, and wants to broaden his horizons while gaining new skill sets.

Wing Patron Pancha Narayanan QSM is highly regarded for his work on behalf of ethnic communities as President of Multicultural New Zealand, helping to build cohesive, connected communities.

He supports Police as an advisor to Commissioner Coster on his Ethnic Focus Forum, which guides Police’s strategy for effective policing with New Zealand’s diverse communities.


Minister’s Award recognising top student – Constable Jaymie King, Waikato District

Patron’s Award for Second in Wing, recognising second top student – Constable Young-Seo (Anne) Byun, Waitematā District

Commissioner’s Award for Leadership – Constable Scott Loper, Waitematā District

Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award – Constable Kyle Merritt, Northland District

Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award – Constable Michael Lang, Canterbury District

Firearms Award – Constable Ian Tichborne, Eastern District


The wing will be posted to districts as follows. 

Northland – 1, Waitematā – 16, Auckland City – 8, Counties Manukau – 8, Waikato – 6, Bay of Plenty – 6, Eastern – 3, Central – 8, Wellington – 11, Tasman – 1, Canterbury – 5, Southern – 3

Wing demographics

Female 28.9%; male 71.1%; NZ European 72.4%; Māori 6.6%; Pacific 15.8%; and Asian 5.3%.



Issued by Police Media Centre


Note to Media:

Media are welcome to attend the graduation parade which takes place at Te Rauparaha Arena, Main Arena, 17 Parumoana Street, Porirua. The ceremony starts at 10.00am on Thursday 28 July. Any media wishing to attend the graduation should contact the Police Media Centre by 5pm Wednesday at

Also look out for a Ten One Magazine story that will be published, with photos, on the Police website.


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Graduation photo
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