E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge Deputy Commissioner Audrey Sonerson,
Deputy Chief Executives Kaye Ryan, Mark Evans and Wally Haumaha
Director of Training Phill Weeks,
Māori Responsiveness Manager Inspector Anaru George , and the instructors who are responsible for training Wing 316.
First of all, thank you very much for inviting me to be Patron of your wing. It’s a real honour.
Much as I would like to, I haven’t been able to liaise with you as often as Patrons of some other Wings, so thank you for the letters and video messages that you have sent me. I’ve been amazed at your energy and impressed by your enthusiasm for your new career.
I can see how much getting into Police College means to you all, and that enthusiasm will carry you through the many challenges you are facing. In addition to being separated from family and friends for four months, you are coming to grips with a whole raft of new skills, information and experiences which take you outside your comfort zone.
I was in something of the same position when I took on this role in 2016 – except there wasn’t a training college for Governors-General – or an exam to test whether I understood everything I needed to know. Nor was there an application form or even a formal interview process. Though David and I did have lunch with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace before I was formally approved and sworn in. I guess that was to test our table manners!
As Governor General, my training has been very much on the job. What I did have was a group of people in the Government House staff and the Cabinet Office who could provide me with advice and show me the ropes as I went along. In fact my very first official engagement following my swearing in on 28 September 2016, was here at the Police College where I attended Remembrance Day, honouring the serving and former police staff who had died in the previous 12 months.
For the first several months in my new role, almost every day brought a completely new experience for me to manage without looking like I didn’t really know what I was doing. [Fortunately for everyone, none of them involved life and death situations!]
I recall that my first awards ceremony was the following week, where I was presenting some bravery awards. One was to a teenage girl who had swum out from Eastbourne beach in the dark to locate a person who was calling for help in the water.
She was very nervous about the ceremony which was held in the Ballroom at Government House, and one of the staff tried to calm her beforehand, by telling her that it was the Governor General’s first award ceremony too, so she needn’t feel overawed.
I think it worked because when I presented her medal she said to me ‘Don’t worry, I think you’re doing a really good job’. As you can imagine, I was rather taken aback and it was only later that I understood the context.
If I have one piece of advice for you all, it is - pay close attention to your instructors, and make the very most of the opportunities you have to learn from them, because their wise words and actions will be your best guide when you get out into the community and are on the job.
I have been fortunate to be offered many new challenges throughout my career. At the time, my first thought has often been. I can’t possibly do that - I don’t know how. I am not qualified to do it. Why me?”
But then I realised that other people were prepared to put their confidence in me to offer me the opportunity and I would never know if I didn’t give it a go.
You have been selected because Police have recognised that you have the qualities and the potential to be effective Police Officers.
That is an honour and a responsibility that I know you will not take lightly. I urge you to make the most of the opportunities that are offered, to be the best that you can be.
I have worked as in the private sector as a lawyer, and in business, but some of the most satisfying times in my career have been during my time working in the public sector when I have realised that I could be a part of improving outcomes or opportunities for others. Examples are the work I did as a Chief Crown Negotiator in treaty settlements, or my role as Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission focussed on developing and supporting our screen industry.
I am sure that you will agree with me that one of the best things that we can do in our lives is to serve others.
Nelson Mandela said it best: What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
As just the third woman to be Governor-General, I am particularly keen to promote equality of opportunity for all our citizens – and the more that our Police Force reflects the make-up of 21st century New Zealand, the more effective it will be as a vanguard of positive change.
As one of you said in a letter to me, it is not just about making a difference – it is being the difference. I’m impressed to see that the ethnic makeup of Wing 316 is fairly close to the demographic profile of NZ, with 16% Maori, 9% Asian and 4% Pacifica.
But I note there is still a way to go to reach gender equality. I look forward to the day when the percentage of women in our police force accurately reflects our population and for that to happen all of the Wings here at the Training College will need to be at least 50% female.
Finally, let me, on behalf of all New Zealanders, thank you for taking on this challenge and committing yourselves to a career with NZ Police.
New Zealand consistently ranks at the top or near the top of countries considered to be the least corrupt in the world. That is a precious reputation to guard and uphold, for everyone working in the State Sector, especially police officers. As such, you will perform a vital role in our society.
Your families and friends must be very proud of you. I wish you all the very best, whatever branch of Police you end up moving into.
Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui, huihui tātou katoa