Thursday, 13 September 2018 - 9:36am

Super Mario carts off title

4 min read

News article photos (6 items)

top 3
harris 2
M litter
dogs line

Senior Constable Mark Chapman and patrol dog Mario were crowned as Police’s top dog team yesterday.

Mark, from Tauranga, and four-year-old Mario came top of the 12 teams in the patrol dog section at the annual National Police Dog and Detector Dog Championship, winning the coveted Frank Riley Cup.


Mario with his silverware.

Senior Constable Chris Harris and Floyd, from Auckland, won the Alan Symes Cup as top narcotic detector dog team, beating five other teams from Police, Corrections and Customs.

Constable Elyse Lewis, from Whangārei - only the second female patrol dog handler to compete at the nationals - and patrol dog Mist came second overall.

The Explosives Detector Dog competition was won by Lance Corporal Leslie Tawhara, from NZ Army, with Police-bred Iris – less than three weeks after they graduated.

The prizegiving yesterday at the Dog Training Centre at Trentham followed three days of intense competition which pushed the handlers and their dogs to the limit of their skills.

It was success first time at the nationals for Mark, a handler for eight years, and four-year-old Mario – his fourth operational dog.

“I’m absolutely stoked,” he says. “I thought we were up there but I had my money on someone else winning it. But you just don’t know.

“Everything you did had to be perfect. You know what’s coming up because they tell you but everything has to be done perfectly.”

Elyse, a dog handler since 2015, says she was surprised to hear her name among the winners. “I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

She says the tests were a challenge. “I learned a hell of a lot about me and my dog and what we can do. Overall it’s been very rewarding.”

It was a good day for the marvellous M litter: brother and sister Mario and Mist had two other siblings in the competition – Murk, with Constable Ben Whitley (Gisborne), and Moose, with Constable Marc Lock (Wellington) – and they took four of the top five spots.


Senior Constable Hamish Todd
and Ezak.

Chris, from Auckland, has been a dog handler for 18 years, with three operational patrol dogs. Two-year-old Floyd is his first detector dog, and this was also his first time at the nationals.

“I knew Floyd was very capable, but being the first time for me here, I didn’t know what to expect – and you really don’t know where you stand until the names are called at the end,” says Chris.

“We just wanted to do as well as we could, and I’m obviously very pleased with the result.”

Mark, Chris and Elyse will now defend New Zealand’s title in the Australian and New Zealand Police and Detector Dog Championships at Trentham next month, as will Senior Constable Hamish Todd and Ezak, from Wellington, third-ranked explosives detector dog team.

Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement told the gathering all the agencies represented were proud of their dog teams and the tasks they performed, which made work safer for the colleagues who followed them.

“Our dog teams respond to more than 30,000 events a year - that’s an awful lot of activity we put on them, and the other agencies do likewise.”

He thanked the family members present for their support. “For every team that’s on the road, there’s another team, back at home.”

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, says the standard across all categories was very high.

“The competition was extremely stiff this year, and the scores were all very tight at the top,” he says. “Everyone worked really hard just to get here in the first place, and it’s a big deal to have come and competed at a national level.

“Those who have taken out titles should feel very proud of themselves and their dogs.”

Results in full:

Patrol Dog

1st Senior Constable Mark Chapman and Mario (Tauranga) – also winner of William Rose Bowl for criminal work and building search
2nd Constable Elyse Lewis and Mist (Whangārei) – also winner of Commissioner’s Challenge Cup for Obedience Disciplines
3rd Senior Constable Shane Durston and Luke (Palmerston North)
4th Constable Ben Whitley and Murk (Gisborne)
5th Constable Marc Lock and Moose (Wellington)
6th Constable Lachlan MacDonald and Gee (Invercargill)
7th Constable Stu Rota and Dakota (Wellington)
8th Constable Vanja Spiric and Bear (Auckland) – also winner of Colin Guppy Trophy for tracking
9th Senior Constable Owen Davies and Quid (Auckland)
10th Constable James Seales and Veto (Whakatāne)
11th Constable Aaron Senior and Nour (Blenheim)
12th Constable Andrew Lillie and Kase (Christchurch) – also winner of Monaghan Trophy for heelwork

Narcotics Detector Dog

1st Senior Constable Chris Harris and Floyd (Auckland)
2nd Corrections Dog Handler Maurice O’Connor and Radar (Central)
3rd Customs Officer Kofe Koko and Yarra (Auckland)
4th Senior Constable Grant Diver and Saru (Hawkes Bay)
5th Customs Officer Dan Evans and Flo (Christchurch)
6th Corrections Dog Handler Matt Feterika and Aussie (Auckland)

Explosives Detector Dog

1st LCPL Leslie Tawhara and Iris (NZ Army)
2nd Aviation Security Officer Andrew Buchanan and Toby (Queenstown)
3rd Senior Constable Hamish Todd and Ezak (Wellington)
4th SPR Maylin Broderick and Bok (NZ Army)
5th Aviation Security Officer Deborah Curry and Nitro (Auckland)