Speech at the graduation of Wing 340

Graduation of Wing 340

2pm, 13 August 2020, The Royal New Zealand Police College

[CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY]

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to be here today to celebrate the graduation of Wing 340.

Let us begin by acknowledging the presence of Coalition Government colleague, Police Minister the Hon Stuart Nash, the Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, and members of the Police Executive.

And of course the 56 constables graduating today.

It’s a momentous day – congratulations to you all.  

You are graduating at a time when our nation is in various alert levels.

It has meant that your family and close friends are not here in person, and instead are watching the graduation online.

However, that does not diminish the pride being experienced by your family and friends as we speak.

Your family and friends are your greatest advocates who understand the personal work you have undertaken to pass the course.

And while not here in person, be assured your family and friends recognise that it is a serious achievement to graduate from police college and embark on a policing career.

This is, of course, a time when the country needs our frontline emergency workers the most.

The confirmation of COVID community transmission in Auckland is a serious matter.

The Government’s priority remains to do everything in our power to contain this virus and stamp it out.

For the health of every individual in New Zealand.

And for the health of our economy.

With the New Zealand Police force supporting our team of five million, we have overpowered this virus before.

As new constables you will have a role to play in supporting the effort to combat the pandemic.

You’ve joined to make a difference in people’s lives, and make a difference you will.

Such commitment to frontline emergency work with the New Zealand Police must be commended.

At this time, and every three years, you’ll hear a lot of talk about law and order. When you do, perhaps you should ask yourself this question – “but how do we get law and order without the resources, and the men and women in sufficient numbers in our police force, to make sure there can be law and order”. 

We have been a strong supporter of our Police Force, especially for it to be resourced properly.

It is why we negotiated in the 2017 Coalition Agreement the creation, in three years, of 1800 new frontline police.

We exceeded expectations.

As of today we have seen 2,309 new officers successfully graduate since the Government was formed on 24 October 2017.

The police workforce is now the largest it has ever been with a total workforce of 14,000, and a current low attrition rate of approximately 2.3% per annum.

We’ve seen other milestones important for our communities – we’ve seen the number of Māori Police officers exceed 1000 for the first time, female officers exceed 2000 for the first time and Pasifika officers exceed 500 for the first time.

We’ve also delivered frontline officers to rural and provincial New Zealand, because we know that our provinces need to thrive if New Zealand is to do well.

Police districts now have more resources to better keep people safe, to better respond to crime and victimisation, and to do more to reduce reoffending.

But back to our new constables –

Your graduation today marks the next stage in your life journey, as you step out of the Police College and into the community.

Out there, you will be serving your community, working with and for the citizens of New Zealand in an uncertain time.

You take into those communities your diversity – whether that’s diversity of thought, of background, of experiences, of ethnicity, or of language – and you will use that to further enrich this great Police service.

You will enjoy many good times and the close camaraderie of your colleagues, but there will be difficult times too and hard lessons to learn.

At times your job will be tough, real tough. You will deal with difficult people, challenging situations, and you will see people at their worst.

But you will also be able to help people in countless ways, you will meet many good people and you will also see people at their very best.

To the family members and friends who, we hope have been able to hear us today, your love and support will be very important as these new constables progress through their careers.

To Wing 340, sincere congratulations, and best wishes to you in your police career. 

On behalf of all New Zealanders in such troubling times – thank you!

ENDS