International Women’s Day is the day to celebrate women’s achievement. It’s a time to raise awareness about discrimination and drive gender equality.
As we celebrate the women of New Zealand Police and encourage more to join us, Senior Media Advisor Jill Reid speaks to some of the growing number of female staff who have chosen a career in Police, whether in a constabulary role or not.
“As at 31 January this year we had 2,679 full time equivalent constabulary women," says Director of Recruitment Paula Hill.
"This means 25.6% of all constabulary are women - this is the first international women’s day where more than 1 in 4 of the constabulary workforce in New Zealand Police are women.
"During the 1800 growth period total constabulary numbers have grown 19%, but female constabulary numbers have grown by 55%. At the same time, we had 3,027 female police employee in full time roles, which is a pretty good achievement.”
- Superintendent Jill Rogers
- Senior Sergeant Sonia Sherborne
- Constable Weiwei Verran
- Deputy Chief Executive Corporate Operations Ruth Currie
- Inspector Paula Enoka
- Inspector Freda Grace
- Executive Director Angela Brazier
Superintendent Jill Rogers is the District Commander for Counties Manukau. However, she’s currently seconded to the Police Executive at Police National Headquarters supporting People and Capability.
Her 30-year career has spanned work in all fields, including general duties (or as it's now known, Public Safety Teams) and Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB), and in all three Tāmaki Makaurau districts.
“Over my career I’ve worked with some incredibly inspirational women and have no hesitation in recommending Police to those wāhine who are thinking about starting a career with us," she says.
"One of my current roles is working alongside the team at the Royal New Zealand Police College and I really enjoy seeing our new colleagues as they work towards graduating into a career with Police.
"The past 30 years have been busy and challenging but no two days are ever the same. It’s one of the reasons I love my job so much. With Police I’ve been able to progress my career, skills and education as well as be there to raise my daughter.”
Senior Sergeant Sonia Sherborne, pictured above left, works in the District Command Centre in Rotorua, Bay of Plenty (BoP), and is a dedicated cop with nearly 23 years in the job.
"My passion has always been the front line - like the classic quote 'better work stories'. I am now guiding staff and supporting them through work and at times challenging incidents.
"I love where I am working currently as I am still in touch with our staff. I have the responsibility of overseeing the BoP and information-sharing with my fellow team members.
"The organisation is fantastic and really ensures a work life balance. Family always come first and that is constantly echoed from management, which is awesome."
Also working in Rotorua is Ethnic Liaison Officer (ELO) for the Bay of Plenty, Constable Weiwei Verran, pictured above right, who moved to New Zealand from China 20 years ago. It’s her fourth year in New Zealand Police.
Weiwei’s the only serving Chinese female police officer in Rotorua and the staff and the community have embraced her and the cultural awareness she carries.
“At the present my role as the ELO is the platform that I use to strengthen the relationship between Police and all ethnic communities," she says.
"I love my job so much because in this role I have been able to utilise my language skills and cultural awareness in a variety of situations to support and better respond to our ethnic communities as well as assisting internal work groups."
Weiwei says the most rewarding part of her role is seeing our ethnic community groups feel more comfortable and confident in engaging with Police.
“I am so glad that I can help bridge the gap between Police and ethnic communities and build partnerships where we are working alongside each other to keep our community safe.”
Deputy Chief Executive Corporate Operations Ruth Currie. This photo was taken while Ruth was working as the United Nations Chief Observer in Lebanon. Ruth led a group of more than 25 nations to monitor and observe the blue line between Israel and Lebanon. This meant visiting remote observation points, such as this one in the far east of Lebanon, which overlooked the Golan Heights.
Deputy Chief Executive Corporate Operations Ruth Currie is the lead for our People, Finance, ICT, Legal, Property and Supply Chain operations.
Her wealth of experience in operations includes time with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), where she managed the operational delivery of health, policing, and logistics support in New Zealand and overseas. She also led a programme bringing together a set of individual business units to provide support to the entire NZDF.
“I have experienced first-hand the difference women can make on operations, having been invited into the homes of women who culturally could not connect with my male counterparts, which in turn opened up different opportunities to support people in the local community.
"I see the same opportunity for us here in New Zealand Police. Diversity of all kinds is a team multiplier.”
When Inspector Paula Enoka (Ngāti Whātua) became Otago Lakes Central Area Commander in 2021, she became the first ever wāhine Māori Area Commander in Southern District. Paula has also recently served as Acting Southern District Commander and says it’s important to take up the many opportunities that a career in Police provides.
“There are so many different paths within Police that allow you to find the best fit for yourself, you can grow as a person and help to mould your own version of leadership.
“Something that’s always been really important to me is to take as many opportunities as they arise, and I’ve enjoyed extending my abilities and tried to become a better leader as a result.
“Being open to everything that comes your way in the job, and even treating obstacles as potential opportunities for growth – that would be my advice for anyone joining Police. And also, how important it is to embrace humility and kindness in the way you deal with everybody – they are qualities that go a long way in New Zealand Police."
With 39 years’ service under her belt, Inspector Freda Grace brings the experience on her impressive CV to the role of Commander Operations Support, based at Police National Headquarters.
This role is responsible for the Special Tactics Group and the work they do, as well as shaping the policy, practice, training and equipment for all Armed Offender Squads (AOS). She also managed Police Dive Squad capability and Specialist Search Groups to name a few.
Freda is a former Hamilton City Area Commander, Waikato Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) Commander, Road Policing Manager, and Deployment and Prevention Manager.
“Policing is an amazing career," she says. "The opportunity to work with our communities when they are experiencing crisis and chaos is a privilege.
"It is not always an easy job, there are often challenges, but it is always a rewarding one, whether it’s about the community or our people in Police.
"Policing offers the opportunity to have a number of careers in one place, gain experience and opportunities to learn, grow, and develop personally and professionally.
"For me, it has been an absolute privilege to lead an Armed Offenders Squad, and now the National Special Tactics Group. They are amazing roles working with an extraordinary group of people.
"I encourage all women to give policing a go – general policing and any of our specialist groups.”
Freda is pictured in her former role as Waikato Area Commander.
Executive Director Angela Brazier is the Executive Director for Te Tari Pūreke - Firearms Safety Authority, which is a new branded business unit within Police and launched in November 2022.
Angela is also leading the work to design and implement New Zealand’s first digital Firearms Registry which will go live in June 2023.
“Te Tari Pūreke – Firearms Safety Authority is about keeping people safe while enabling the legitimate and safe use of firearms in New Zealand," she says.
"The establishment of a new firearms regulator and firearms registry is a big responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to truly make New Zealand a safer place for all.
"Like so many of my Police colleagues, I come to work each day to make a difference and it’s an absolute privilege to be leading Te Tari Pūreke – Firearms Safety Authority and working with so many great people helping to keep our communities safe.”