Wednesday, 6 June 2018 - 10:32am

Dive squad marks half-century

3 min read

News article photos (12 items)

dive lily
dive Bad
dive coins
dive group
dive view
dive navy
dive truck
dive emerson
dive janine
dive kids
dive Liz

For five decades Police divers have performed tasks most of us can barely imagine.

But last weekend the spotlight was firmly on the Police National Dive Squad (PNDS) as it marked its 50th anniversary with a combination of private celebrations and public outreach.

On Friday, the Governor-General, the Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, hosted a dinner for 55 of the squad’s 85 past and serving members at Government House, along with their partners.

On Saturday the squad threw open its base at Seaview, on Wellington Harbour, for a public open day which attracted around 1000 visitors. Later the base was the scene for a barbecue for 60 past and present members and guests.

“The weekend was outstanding,” says squad O/C Senior Sergeant Bruce Adams. “It made a lot of people very happy, particularly about the recognition of the significance of the job.”

Among the guests were some of Police’s first divers, who in 1967 trained and formed teams in Wellington and Christchurch, which were later centralised in Wellington.

On Friday evening, guests assembled at a waterfront restaurant before being taken to the surprise venue - Government House - where speakers included Dame Patsy and Commissioner Mike Bush. Former PNDS O/C Peter Thompson, who was with the team for 25 years, paid a particularly moving tribute.

All past and serving members were given a commemorative divers coin, with features including a diving helmet engraved with their service number, and a lapel pin. Coins were also given to Dame Patsy, Police Executive members and guests.

dive trophy

The taonga presented to Senior Sergeant Bruce Adams.

A sculpture based on a diving cylinder was presented to Chief of Navy Rear Admiral John Martin and Chief Petty Officer Diver Jim Dimond in recognition of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s support in training and operations.

Bruce himself was on the receiving end when Commissioner Bush presented him with a taonga – again based on a diving cylinder but incorporating a greenstone manaia - in recognition of his leadership and 25-plus years’ service to the squad.

“It was fantastic,” says Bruce. “That wasn’t in the script. I had no idea it was coming.”

The Governor-General presented Police with a trophy based on a half-cylinder to commemorate the anniversary. It will be kept at the dive base.

On the open day, visitors of all ages trooped in glorious sunshine through the dive base, getting a close-up look at modern diving equipment and talking to members about their work.

“A lot of former members were impressed with how things have changed - but at the end of the day you still have to get your head under water, swim in adverse conditions, and remember to breathe,” says Bruce. “No amount of technology can alter that.”

The police launch Lady Elizabeth IV crossed the harbour from her Queen’s Wharf base and proved a popular draw. Staff from The Royal New Zealand Police College also gave up their time to help.

Bruce says the success of the reunion has inspired them to arrange more regular get-togethers for former and serving staff. “But not on the same scale,” says Bruce. “This was a very significant occasion, second to none, involving huge support and some very special people.

“Certainly there was a lot of talk about people having drifted apart and remembering the four former members who had passed away. We now have everyone’s contact details so we will do our utmost to keep team members in touch.”