Friday, 1 June 2018 - 1:49pm

Family matters

3 min read

News article photos (11 items)

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There are families, there are police families and there’s the Police family – and all were in top form for the graduation of Recruit Wing 314 from The Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) yesterday (31 May).

An enthusiastic audience of friends, family and supporters cheered 78 new constables through the attestation parade – the final task of initial training.

All are now heading to the three Tāmaki Makaurau districts – Auckland City, Counties Manukau and Waitematā.

This was the largest all-Auckland wing to join the Police family in 40 years – and the most ethnically diverse wing ever, with nearly 45 percent from non-European backgrounds.

Police families were also well represented. It was a big day, for example, for the Afoa family as brothers John and Lafoia graduated.

Both had worked as Authorised Officers (AOs) – carrying out prisoner escorts and other duties in South Auckland – with a view to becoming Police recruits.

“I’ve wanted to join Police since childhood,” says John. “Growing up in South Auckland I always looked up to the police keeping our community safe.”

Lafoia, who is two years older than John, says he followed his little brother’s lead in becoming an AO. “This feels very fulfilling,” he says.

Among graduates with family ties to Police is Constable Amy Johnston-Rusbatch, who is heading to Waitematā District in the footsteps of her father Sergeant Alan Johnston and mother Senior Constable Penny Rusbatch.

No surprise that Amy has wanted to join Police since she was a small girl. “I practically grew up in the Takapuna watch house," she says.

“My parents are my two biggest role models: seeing how passionate they were for the job made me want to be part of it.”

Alan, who graduated with Wing 94 in 1984, and Penny – back at the RNZPC for the first time since graduating with Wing 120 in 1991 – say they feel very proud.

“We’ve been in the job so long ourselves we know the sort of things she’s going to be involved in,” says Penny. “It’s such a neat job – there’s so much going on out there in the community. It’s an exciting time.”

During the parade, Wing Patron Sir Noel Robinson KNZM, businessman and philanthropist, told the new constables how much his role had meant to him.

“It has been a wonderful experience for me,” he said. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, support, leadership and partnership you’ve demonstrated to be here today.”

He spoke of watching the wing perform the Police haka at the Memorial Wall, where the names of officers slain in the line of duty are recorded – a tradition when recruits are attested as constables, two days before graduation.

“When I looked at the Memorial Wall I realised just how committed you all were and a tear came to my eye,” said Sir Noel.

Commissioner Mike Bush told the parade of the difference he saw between their first day at college and the day he attested them as constables, when he found them demonstrating every one of Police’s core values.

Police Minister Stuart Nash told them to be guided by those values as they embarked on a “life less ordinary”.

The parade finished with the Police haka, led with great gusto – taiaha in hand – by Constable Wepiha Te Kanawa. Then a party of Policing Studies students from Rotorua Boys’ and Girls’ high schools - who were visiting the RNZPC - entered and performed the haka back to them.

It was a moment less ordinary, and a great omen for the future of the Police family.

Award winners

  • Minister’s Award for First in Wing - Constable Jessica Mahar (Counties Manukau District)

  • Patron’s Award for Second in Wing - Constable Nicole Stratford (Waitematā)

  • Commissioner’s Award for Leadership - Constable Craig Heslop (Waitematā)

  • Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award - Constable Troy Smith (Auckland City)

  • Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award - Constable Ben Middleton (Auckland City)

  • Firearms Award - Constable Faizal Buking (Auckland City)


The new constables are deployed as follows: Auckland City (28); Counties Manukau (34); and Waitematā (16).