Royal New Zealand Police College Graduation Ceremony
Graduation ceremony for Wing 312, the Sir Mark Solomon Wing.
Gymnasium, Royal New Zealand Police College, Papakowhai, Porirua
Tēnā koutou katoa
Commissioner Mike Bush and members of the Police Executive;
General Manager Training Superintendent Scott Fraser and staff of the Royal New Zealand Police College;
Wing Patron, Sir Mark Solomon;
family and friends; and, of course,
To the new constables of Wing 312;
Good Afternoon to you all.
I am delighted to be with you on this special day to personally welcome you all to the ranks of the New Zealand Police.
I know what a massive milestone this moment is in your lives; not just for you but all your loved ones here today.
I understand how important the training you receive here is to the careers you will lead and the public who you now serve.
Over the past 16 weeks, you’ve been put to the test and challenged in ways I bet you never imagined, both physically and mentally.
You have learned to think on your feet and how to respond in times of crisis.
And you’ve been steeped in the values of Police - Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Commitment to Māori and Treaty, Empathy, and Valuing Diversity.
Let these values guide you as you embark on your careers and let them lie at the heart of everything you do as you strive to make a difference and keep people safe.
You are privileged to be constables in the New Zealand Police, and we are privileged that you have chosen this path.
Very few people get to take the Constables Oath of Affirmation and to stand where you are today.
And there are few jobs that ask people to put themselves in the path of danger so the public may be safe.
There are few jobs where the public is more reliant on the courage, professionalism, leadership and skill that are the hallmark of those who police them.
Every day we hear tales of incredible bravery, dedication, commitment and the continuous striving for excellence from Police officers all across the country.
You are now part of an elite group of men and women in an elite organisation, and you should all be extremely proud.
Being a New Zealand Police Officer is not a role to be taken lightly. It carries enormous responsibility.
It is vital to the smooth functioning of society that the public has trust and confidence in their police.
It is essential that the Police are respected and in the years ahead, it will be up to each and every one of you to maintain and build on that trust and confidence.
Let me tell you a true story of the work one of your fellow constables who perfectly demonstrated Prevention First and community policing in the 21st century.
Late last year a Detective in Wellington helped resolve a family matter involving a woman who was the victim of a serious sexual assault earlier in the year. The young woman refused to engage with support agencies after the assault, and began offending against family members.
The detective encouraged the young woman’s mother to formally report any future assaults. The mother reported an assault to Police the very next day.
Rather than take a ‘throw the book at her approach’ to the young woman the Detective made the conscious decision to refer her to an Iwi Panel, which gave the young woman an opportunity to air her issues and obtain the support she needed in a safe Maori environment.
Subsequently the young woman has engaged positively in counselling and, to the delight of everyone involved, she has been granted a scholarship to attend WelTec this year to improve her education. She is very grateful for the support she has received from Police.
This is a wonderful example of an officer using discretion by referring the young woman to the Iwi Panel and it demonstrates the positive impact Iwi Panels and alternative resolutions are having.
As an officer, you too, will have opportunities like this to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
As your Minister, you can rely on my support.
My priorities are that you have the tools and the support you need to keep our communities safe, prevent crime and victimisation and provide comfort and reassurance to New Zealanders.
I know that you will do that without fear or favour.
It’s also important to me that you are as safe as possible at work, and I know that’s also the top priority for the Commissioner and all those who will lead you in your new careers.
I also want to acknowledge the many family members who are here today.
They have already made an important contribution by supporting you through your decision to apply to the College and during your time here, and there love and support will be tremendously important as you progress through your careers.
I would also like to acknowledge all those who have played a role in your training here at the College for the excellent work they have done in preparing you for such a demanding and challenging vocation.
My thanks, too, to Sir Mark Solomon for the mentorship he has shown during your time here. I’m sure he has been a huge support and will continue to take a keen interest in your careers.
Constables of Wing 312, today is not an end – it is a beginning.
When you leave here, you will be embarking on a life of doing good deeds, of making a positive contribution to New Zealand, of helping those in need and protecting those who are vulnerable or in danger.
It is indeed a noble profession, and I wish you every success.