Thursday, 18 May 2023 - 12:52pm

Every one a star

6 min read

News article photos (4 items)

Wing 365 haka.
Patron Kura Moeahu inspects the wing.
Constable Petelo Tangilanu, right, with Sergeant Male’ela (Pete) Nassau in support.
Samoa, Samoa: Constables Leasuasu (Jase) Tupuono-Pepine and Mac Tivolii-Vaiotu with the flags of their heritage, American Samoa

There was plenty of new hope on display at the Recruit Wing 365 graduation on May the 4th, Star Wars Day.

The 76 graduates – who started in their districts this week – included 22 wāhine, taking the number of women who have joined constabulary ranks since 2017 to more than 1000.

Patron Kura Moeahu, Senior Cultural Advisor at Parliament, likened the wing to the kumara which, in the whakataukī, will not speak of its own sweetness.

“These young leaders will not talk about what they have been through - they will not talk about it because they stand here silent, confident, humble, to serve our country. So let me share a few words…

“When they initially made that decision to take that leap and make the application to Police, they demonstrated courageousness, they demonstrated a commitment to a lifelong journey, to serving people - our people, all ages, all ethnicities, and from a diversity of backgrounds.”

He said they were setting a great example for rangatahi. “They have accepted and taken on all the challenges that they have been asked to do.”

Speakers included, from left: Commissioner Andrew Coster; Police Minister Ginny Andersen; Patron Kura Moeahu; and Leadership Award winner Constable Jacob Thomson.
Speakers included, from left: Commissioner Andrew Coster; Police Minister Ginny Andersen; Patron Kura Moeahu; and Leadership Award winner Constable Jacob Thomson. 

​The graduation was at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua, in front of family, friends and wellwishers, and with Commissioner Andrew Coster and Police Minister Ginny Andersen among those on the dias.

Top of wing and winner of the Minister’s Award was Constable Troy Welch (Wellington), who worked as a delivery driver, retail worker, a forklift operator and gantry operator before joining Police. He has a science degree in Psychology and Geography. 

“I joined Police to help protect people when they are unable to do so themselves,” he says. “I believe police are often in the best position to help people when they need it most and I’m looking forward providing that help.”

Winner of the Commissioner’s Award for Leadership was Constable Jacob Thomson (Wellington), a Hawke’s Bay native who moved to Wellington to study. 

Making the customary Leadership Award winner’s speech at the ceremony, Jacob said every member of the wing had “fought tooth and nail” to be a part of Police.

“Wing 365 will, in all aspects, carry on and expand the excellent work of all employees, constabulary and non-constabulary, past and present, who for well over 130 years have proudly served as members of New Zealand Police,” he said.

“We are all aware of the priorities and standards our Commissioner has set for us and embrace them wholeheartedly, ever struggling to be the best. To be first, then do; to deliver the service that the public expects and deserves; and to build strong partnerships - this we pledge to all of you.”

Alby receiving his award from Commissioner Coster.
Well done, Alby.

Recipient of the Patron’s award for second in wing was Constable Albright (Alby) Munang (Canterbury). Alby, who was born in Borneo, Malaysia, and raised in England and New Zealand, previously served in the New Zealand Army.

“I want to help in a way that others might not be able to,” he says. “I understand that there are many ways to help a person and I believe I have the right skill set to do so.”

Physical Training and Defensive Tactics award recipient Constable Joseph Mafi (Wellington) has a sporting background that includes American college volleyball and playing rugby back home in New Zealand. His father William is a sergeant in Palmerston North.

Before Wing 365’s graduation, the number of female police officers had grown by 986 since 2017, an increase of 57 percent. The women of Wing 365 who took us past 1000 display the usual diversity of backgrounds and interests.

Constables Sarah-Jayne Keevil, Mikayla Sweetman, Holly Hannaby and Meihawai Bell-Robertson.
Constables Sarah-Jayne Keevil, Mikayla Sweetman, Holly Hannaby and Meihawai Bell-Robertson. 

For example, Constable Sarah-Jayne Keevil (Wellington) is an award-winning equestrian eventer who represented Great Britain in the U16’s European squad and was British National Dressage Champion.

“Although the process of recruitment can take a long time, it’s worth it,” she says. “I like the challenge policing will bring and the opportunity to make a positive impact on our communities.”

Constable Mikayla Sweetman is heading for Greymouth, Tasman District – an ideal spot for someone who spends her spare time tramping, training for adventure races, mountain running and marathons. 

“Becoming a police officer has always been a dream of mine, but I lacked confidence and didn’t have great role models,” she says. “Stepping out of my comfort zone for college was hard but worthwhile.”

As a student, Constable Holly Hannaby (Auckland City) worked with a multi-agency group focused on youth offenders involved in fleeing driver and ram raid incidents – a great insight into youth crime and the help and assistance Youth Aid officers provide. “Working with youth is something I would love do,” she says.

Constable Meihawai Bell-Robertson (Ngāti Maniapoto) is joining her twin sister Constable Ngareima Bell-Robertson, who graduated last year, in Counties Manukau District.

“I have been waiting for this moment since I was five years old,” said Meihawai. “Others see me as a role model, so being out on the front line, I hope I can make some difference and I really want to inspire other women to join too.”

Constables Victoria Makea and Ray Edmonds with Patron Kura Moeahu.
Constables Victoria Makea and Ray Edmonds with Patron Kura Moeahu.

Another proud sister is Constable Victoria Makea (Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi), from Tokoroa, who was there to see her big brother Constable Ray Edmonds (Bay of Plenty) graduate. They have a sporting pedigree, with Ray having represented Bay of Plenty Rugby in his earlier years, and Victoria being a Chiefs Manawa player.

Ray, who worked in Australia before returning to the Bay, says he was inspired to join Police by Victoria’s stories of helping others. “I’ve always had a passion for helping people, especially the less fortunate,” he says.

Constables Petelo Tangilanu and Cameron Welsh.
Constables Petelo Tangilanu and Cameron Welsh.

Constable Petelo Tangilanu (Auckland City), a bishop at his local church in Mt Roskill, Auckland, was inspired to join Police after Sergeant Male’ela (Pete) Nassau spoke to his church youth group – and Pete was present at the graduation.

“My service in the church sparked a desire to become a police officer as I worked closely with them to make a difference in the lives of our youth,” says Petelo. “I want to be an example to the youth in our community.”

Constable Cameron Welsh (Auckland City) has a background in martial arts - karate, tae kwon do, Krav Maga, boxing (two amateur fights), kickboxing (two fights), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. His fitness was a bonus while training for Police College. 

“It’s a tough road getting to the college, but it’s worth it in the end,” he says. “I’m keen to get started,” he says.

An award-winning line-up. From left: Constables Alby Munang, Jacob Thomson, Joseph Mafi, Andrew Jowett and Oliver Giles.


Minister’s Award recognising top student – Constable Troy Welch (Wellington District)

Patron’s Award for Second in Wing, recognising second top student – Constable Albright Munang (Canterbury)

Commissioner’s Award for Leadership – Constable Jacob Thomson (Wellington)

Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award – Constable Joseph Mafi (Wellington)

Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award – Constable Andrew Jowett (Waitematā)

Firearms Award – Constable Oliver Giles (Counties Manukau)

About Wing 365

The youngest member of Wing 365 is 19, and the oldest is 44. Of Wing 365’s graduates, 27% are female, and 73% are male. 67.6% identify as New Zealand European; 10.8% Māori; 12.2% Pacific; 8.1 % Asian 8.1%; 1.4% Latin American, African and Middle Eastern (LAAM/other).

They are deployed as follows:

Northland – 2, Auckland – 14, Counties Manukau – 15, Waitematā - 2, Waikato – 5, Bay of Plenty – 8, Eastern – 2, Central – 3, Wellington – 11, Tasman – 3, Canterbury - 4, Southern – 7.

Who’s the Patron?
Kura Moeahu was born and raised in Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt. He has whakapapa connections to the eight tribes of Taranaki and Ngāti Mutunga and has been described as a “tribal leader for his people”.

He is Chairman of Te Rūnanganuio Te Atiawa, Waiwhetu Marae, Harbour Island Kaitiaki Board, and Waiwhetu Pa Reservation No.4.

Kura is the Kaiwhakarite Māori – Senior Cultural Advisor to Parliament, who is tasked with ensuring tikanga Māori is upheld and promoted within Parliamentary services.