Thursday, 9 November 2023 - 8:01am

From touchline to frontline

6 min read

News article photos (8 items)

The newly graduated constables throwing their hats in the air.
The colour party's precision set the tone for the ceremony.
Patron Paddy O'Brien and a wing member share a moment during inspection.
Applause for the award winners...
Top of Wing Constable Christopher Clements
Leadership Award winner Constable Nicolas Benton.
Wing 370 haka.
Wing 370 haka.

Members of Recruit Wing 370 have started work in their districts with some very apt advice still ringing in their ears.

As they graduated from initial training last month, Patron Paddy O’Brien ONZM addressed them about the Police values - words to remember from a retired police officer and famous former rugby referee, at a time when rugby refereeing has been a national talking point.

He spoke of graduating as a constable 45 years earlier, and repeated the advice he gave the wing at the start of their 16 weeks at the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) - “Nothing more, nothing less. Be the best that you can be."

He said the underlying values of policing had not changed since his days in Police "and they will not change while you pursue your dreams'.

“Please stay true to your values, stay true to the values of New Zealand Police. If you do you will have a wonderful career.”

Patron Paddy O'Brien addressing the wing.
'Stay true to your values' - Patron Paddy O'Brien addresses the wing.

It was appropriate that someone with such a sporting background was Patron of a wing with many members with their own sporting pedigree – in horse racing, football, rowing, hockey and rugby playing and, yes, refereeing, to name a few.

The wing also includes dedicated volunteers, former members of other uniformed services, some who have worked for Police in other roles, and several with family ties to the organisation.

The 53 new constables celebrated their success with whānau and friends at their graduation in front of Commissioner Andrew Coster, other members of the Police Executive and their proud patron at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua, on 19 October.

Top of Wing was Constable Christopher Clements (Waitematā), who is used to taking big steps when it comes to work.

Before joining Police, Chris spent 17 years in the skydiving industry, making more than 13,000 jumps and working up to CEO level. He met his wife through skydiving and has jumped out of a plane while riding a BMX bike, for Nitro Circus, and using a laptop for a Telecom advert.

While cycle skydiving is not a core policing requirement, Chris brings many useful skills such as attention to detail and the ability to cope with pressure, including "dealing with people going through all the fear and guiding them through that process".

He says after working in management, he was attracted to Police by the prospect of a more active and people-centred career which would "make an impact on people for the better".

Photo showing a line of recruits, some of whom are holding a bible, during their attestation.
Attestation, previously carried out in the days before the graduation, is now an integral part of the ceremony.

The Leadership Award winner was American-born Constable Nicolas Benton (Canterbury), who picked up on the theme of values as he addressed the ceremony.

“Incorporating these values into our lifestyle, we now have the foundation to serve and protect our communities, allowing us to fulfil our duties of making our country safer.

“To our patron Paddy O’Brien - he has been a guiding light, inspiring us to create our own values as a wing. His advice on resilience, passion, teamwork and overcoming failure resonated deeply within us.”

He thanked the “incredible sergeants, instructors and college staff” for their patience and encouragement.

Second in Wing was Constable Zachary Poulton, who is posted to Waitematā. 

Sporting Constables Georgia Mason, Kate Cowan, and Natasha and Jacob Cowx-Chesnutt. Natasha was supporting her brother after her own graduation in June.
Sporting Constables Georgia Mason, Kate Cowan, and Natasha and Jacob Cowx-Chesnutt. Natasha was supporting her brother after her own graduation in June.

Among the sporting contingent, Constable Georgia Mason would have had plenty to talk to Patron Paddy about, as a Southern District-based rugby player, coach - and national-level referee. She says there were correlations between refereeing and policing, particularly around decision-making, which helped her follow her long-held dream of joining Police.

"Police has always been on my mind - something I've wanted to do since I left high school, but wanted to see where playing went first."

Constables Kate Cowan (Canterbury), Ariana Gray (Wellington) and Logan Docherty (Southern) have all achieved national or international success in their chosen disciplines - respectively horse racing, football and rowing.

Kate says her career as a jockey was good preparation for policing. "It's a good way to build resilience," she says. "When you're a jockey you lose way more times than you win... You've just got to do your best each time...

"It's the same sort of concept with policing - you've got to give everything you can to each job, even if it doesn't mean you always get the result you want."

Also in the Wing 370 line-up was Constable Jacob Cowx-Chesnutt (Central), who played hockey for Aotea Māori. His sister Natasha, who graduated into Auckland City District in June, is a national-level hockey player and coach.

Among other graduates taking the concept of the Police family to heart was Constable Makaela McVey (Eastern), who had support from her brother Sergeant Matt McVey, sister Constable Emma McVey-Rannali and their dad, retired Constable Peter McVey.

To underscore the family ties, Emma’s husband Constable Ash Rannali also graduated last month, as a dog handler with his patrol dog Kai.

The McVey clan - Sergeant Matt, Constables Emma and Makaela, and dad Peter.
FAMILY TIES PIC - ONE HALF Family ties: The McVey clan - Sergeant Matt, Constables Emma and Makaela, and dad Peter.

It wasn’t the first big graduation moment for Constable Anna John (Bay of Plenty) – her husband Detective Luke John proposed to her at his own graduation in 2015. Anna aims to pursue a life of service like her grandfather, who received a Queen’s Service Medal, and her mother, a Victim Support volunteer.

Tongan-born Constable Siaosi Moeaki (Counties Manukau) is also keen on giving back to the community, after work experience including “life-changing” time spent in a small aboriginal community in Queensland.

“I met the most amazing people and learnt so much of their culture and different lifestyle perspectives. It’s been the most memorable and hardest job I’ve had so far, but very rewarding.”

Another proud Tongan graduate is Constable Sisilia Tu’ipulotu (Counties Manukau), who previously worked at Spring Hill Correctional Facility, working specifically with the Vaka Fa’aola Unit to implement strategies to prevent reoffending by Pasifika men.

More about Wing 370


  • Minister’s Award for First in Wing: Constable Christopher Clements (Bay of Plenty)
  • Commissioner’s Award for Leadership: Constable Nicolas Benton (Canterbury)
  • Driver Training and Road Policing Practice Award: Constable Adam Birchfield (Eastern)
  • Firearms Award: Constable Jeremiah Nadonga (Waikato)
  • Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Award: Constable Milo Faimalo (Wellington)


Wing members have been deployed to the following districts:

Northland – 4; Waitematā – 4; Auckland City – 2; Counties Manukau – 8; Waikato – 5; Bay of Plenty – 4; Eastern – 3; Central – 3; Wellington – 7; Tasman 2; Canterbury – 7; Southern – 4.


45.3 percent of Wing 370 are female, and 54.7 percent male. New Zealand European make up 58.5 percent of the wing, with Māori 11.3 percent, Pasifika 15.1 percent and Asian 7.5.

Who’s the patron?

Paddy O’Brien joined Police as a 19-year-old in 1978 and served in Invercargill and Oamaru until 1995, retiring as a Detective. He took up rugby refereeing in 1984 and became the world’s first professional referee when the game became professional in 1996.

He was a seven-times NZ Ref of the Year. He refereed 80 Super Rugby matches including three finals, two Rugby World Cup tournaments and 218 first-class matches, which remains the most by any New Zealand referee.

On retiring in 2005 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to rugby refereeing. He was then employed by World Rugby, as high-performance Referee Manager for first the 15s, then the Sevens versions of the game.