The new constables of Recruit Wing 345 have finished their training without the usual celebration – yet there was still much to celebrate.
Plunged into Alert Level 4 lockdown and put into a recruit training bubble when they had nearly completed their training, 57 of the wing were attested on Thursday 26 August, with two more to be attested at a later date.
Although they didn’t get the usual graduation parade, the day was a special time for the wing to be together before dispersing to their districts.
The attestation saw the 1000th woman to graduate since New Zealand Police began its extra-1800 recruitment drive in July 2017.
The wing made history with its female recruits in other ways too, as the wing with the highest percentage of women ever to start their recruit training at 55 percent, or 33 out of 60 recruits. Unfortunately one female recruit was injured and couldn’t finish the course, but the final percentage remained high at 54 percent.
These milestones are particularly fitting for the year in which we’ve celebrated the 80th anniversary of women in New Zealand Police.
The wing has been supported by a strong female role model, patron Lisa Tumahai (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāti Waewae, Makaawhio).
Lisa is kaiwhakahaere (chairperson) of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, leading the governance of more than $1.3 billion of tribal assets. She is also the deputy chair for the Climate Change Commission for New Zealand, holds several company directorships, and brings a tikanga and te ao Māori perspective to her roles.
The highest achiever in the wing is Constable Sharee Brown, who will be working in Central District. Sharee received the Minister’s Award for coming top of the wing.
“Joining Police was a long-time goal of mine,” says Sharee, “and to be able to come back and work in my home town of Hāwera was a big bonus.
“I look forward to being able to work closely with the community and our partners to help as many people as I can.
“We were so lucky to get through the majority of our College experience as normal before COVID-19 made a return, which I am truly grateful for.
'Being under Level 4 restrictions for graduation was disappointing, but the College staff really did their best to give us a special experience before we left.
“Receiving the Minister’s Award for top of the wing is the proudest moment of my life and I would like to thank everyone who helped me along the way!”
Among other high-achieving women in the wing is Constable Bridgette Jones, posted to Southern District. Bridgette has previously worked as a senior intelligence analyst for Police. She has a Master of Science in psychology, for which she examined bias towards Māori in the criminal justice system.
“I always wanted to work within the criminal justice system and Police was always the number one contender,” says Bridgette.
With previous jobs ranging from being a horse-drawn carriage driver and tour guide in Canada to stunt work for the New Zealand film industry, Constable Crystal Pratt has finally achieved a career she has thought about for a long time.
Crystal grew up in Canada and initially thought about joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, then while driving carriages around a historic park in Vancouver she contemplated being part of Vancouver City Police. But after a move to Auckland and 13 years of stunt work, it’s New Zealand Police for her.
Her husband and toddler son are part of her motivation.
“I’m looking forward to being a positive role model for my family, friends and community. I truly believe you need to walk the talk and be the change you want to see in the world.”
Crystal speaks French and has a Bachelor degree in psychology. She is posted to Counties Manukau District.
Constable Duangphaktra (Tang) Simmonds is originally from Thailand and it was through volunteering after the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami that she first came into contact with New Zealand Police.
At that time she helped New Zealand’s Disaster Victim Identification team translate Thai writing on the body bags into English. This was where she met Sergeant Phil Simmonds, who is currently the Search and Rescue coordinator in Canterbury District.
Out of the tsunami tragedy their love blossomed and they were later married, with Tang moving to Christchurch in 2006.
Tang says she has been motivated to join Police out of a desire to help others, because she is always happy to “lend a hand to whoever needs it”.
But it was seeing a TV news story about a mother and son graduating as police officers that made her decide, “I can start a brand new chapter of my life, turning what I love to do in my normal life into my new career.”
Tang has a Bachelor degree in Mass Communication (Radio Broadcasting). She is posted to Canterbury District.
Constable Natasha Hill worked at Tūtaki Youth in Stratford before taking up police training. In the Police-led not-for-profit organisation she worked within a team providing youth with opportunities to improve their quality of life. By becoming a police officer she is achieving a long-held ambition.
“I have always wanted to be a police officer. When I got told I was coming to Police College I found a piece of artwork I made when I was in primary school that said I wanted to join Police. It is an amazing feeling knowing I’m achieving a life-long dream.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to district and putting everything I’ve learnt at Police College into practice. It’s going to be a privilege to serve in the community during these trying times and in the future.”
Natasha is also a rural and urban volunteer firefighter and has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Graphic Design. She is posted to Central District.
Recognised for his leadership skills through the Commissioner’s Award for Leadership, Constable Holliday (Holli) Rudolph (Te Uri O Tai – Muriwhenua) showed those skills right from his first day as a recruit, speaking for the wing at their pōwhiri.
Joining Police has been an ongoing goal since Holli left school and he’ll be joining his brother who has been in Police for a few years, both working in Kaitaia (Northland District).
“I’m ready to roll out and just be me,” says Holli.
“I understand our communities across the motu all have their own struggles. I’m here to help guide those who want or need a push in the right direction and support those who are affected by the actions of others.”
Holli’s career before Police was managing a road safety programme in the Far North.
“Along with Waka Kotahi/NZTA and district councils, Police were a big part of the programme and played a big part in motivating me to join.”
Minister’s Award recognising the top student – Constable Sharee Brown (Central District)
Patron’s Award for Second in Wing, recognising the second top student – Constable Oliver Powell (Tasman District)
Commissioner’s Award for Leadership – Constable Holliday Rudolph (Northland District)
Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award – Constable Russell Moorcock (Wellington District)
Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award – Constable Jamie Clark (Northland District)
Firearms Award – Constable Connor Spencer (Bay of Plenty District)
The new constables start work in their districts on 6 September. They are being dispersed to districts as follows:
Northland – 3, Auckland City – 4, Counties Manukau – 18, Waikato – 2, Bay of Plenty – 3, Eastern – 5, Central – 4, Wellington – 9, Tasman – 2, Canterbury – 5, Southern – 4.
Recruit training during alert levels
As Police is an essential service and has an exemption to operate under the COVID-19 Public Health Order, this means we can continue to train staff under all alert levels.