Growing number of wāhine Māori in the police force

By Tema Hemi

Te Rarawa's Eden Cherrington was one of 78 new cops who graduated at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua today.  Cherrington becomes part of the growing number of wāhine Māori police officers to enter the force.  

A desire to help other rangatahi Māori to make better decisions in life inspired the Te Rarawa descendant to join the NZ Police Force. 

Cherrington says, "Being young myself I know what it's like to come through from the younger times and also [spending] the last ten plus years [in] the community...I'm definitely looking forward to working with our rangatahi."

Cherrington is one of 78 new graduates and represents a growing sisterhood of female police officers.

"We are quite privileged in a way although we are kind of outnumbered by other diverse cultures.  It's really cool that we can have those different experiences," she says.

The Māori Responsiveness Manager for NZ Police, Owen Maurirere says, "I know where I come from, in Ngāti Porou.  Our females have very strong leadership back home and that's what we want to see in this environment and in our communities."

2007 figures show 42% of all criminal apprehensions involve a person identifying as Māori, as does 50% of the prison population.   

Graduate Megan Gardiner of Te Aitanga a Hauiti says, "It's important for our culture to be out there on the streets to talk to our own people and to acknowledge that it's our culture [and people] that are out there and are needing the help- you know, that whakatauki, 'he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!'

"I've kept that really close to my heart and since working with the children, they've made me realise that it's for the people."

Recruitment drives resulted in a 31% increase in the number of Māori police officers from 2002 to 2012.

Overall, 10.9% of constabulary employees currently identify as Māori.