Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Torch tours Tauranga to celebrate women in blue

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The police staff torch relay - Police officer Gaylene McFarlane takes the torch through a guard of honour after paddling across Pilot Bay in a waka. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
The police staff torch relay - Police officer Gaylene McFarlane takes the torch through a guard of honour after paddling across Pilot Bay in a waka. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

A Tauranga policewomen jumped in a waka and paddled her way across the harbour to Pilot Bay with the baton which is being carried the length of the North Island to celebrate 75 years of service by our women in blue.

To mark the occasion and pay tribute to pioneering female police officers torch relays, which started at opposite ends of the country, have been making their way towards Wellington - travelling by any means necessary.

It was Tauranga's turn over the weekend.

Tauranga policewomen jumped in a waka and paddled their way across Pilot Bay with a special baton to celebrate 75 years of women in blue. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
Tauranga policewomen jumped in a waka and paddled their way across Pilot Bay with a special baton to celebrate 75 years of women in blue. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Once the torch arrived in the city at Greerton station it was transported by waka from Sulphur Point to Pilot Bay.

In support of the women in blue, Coastguard, Te Arawa WakaAma club and Corrections Department workers paddled their own waka alongside the policewomen.

The torch was then carried up Mauao and picked up by police officers at Mount Maunganui station before being peddled to Papamoa station on bicycles.

Next stop was a trip down The Strand to Tauranga police station.

Senior Sergeant Angela Grace said the torch relay was a great idea.

"It remembers where we come from and how hard the women worked to get us where we are today.

"It gives us inspiration for the future, as well."

Ms Grace said the next generation of women entering the force would be able to see how far women had come and they would think "I can reach that, I can attain that too".

In the Bay of Plenty there are 258 women working for police, making up about 34 per cent of the workforce.

"The aim is to have 50 per cent of women in police eventually," Ms Grace said, "but we have more women in higher positions than ever before."

The pioneering women who first entered the police force in 1941 would have thought the torch relay happening across the country was wonderful, she said.

"They paved the way for us, they did a lot of the hard work.

"You read what it was like 75 years ago for the first women and you can hardly believe it.

"At one point the uniform was a short skirt and a handbag, I mean what are you going to do with a handbag?"

Bay of Plenty district commander superintendent Andy McGregor said the New Zealand police had come a long way since June 1941 and he was proud to see women across the district celebrate these developments.

The torch arrived in Te Puke on Sunday and was passed over to Otamarakau to make its way to Whakatane.

Looking back at women in police


1941 The first 10 policewomen were recruited. They had to be between the ages of 25 and 40 years and unmarried or widowed and able to use a typewriter. They did not wear uniform.

1946 Members of the New Zealand Police Force had to gain permission to marry. When Constables Peggy McKenzie and Bill Hedley, the first sworn couple to "tie the knot" applied, the Commissioner passed their request to the Prime Minister for him to make the decision.

1952 Policewomen are issued with uniforms.

1957 First policewomen appointed as detectives.

1963 Policewomen in training taught to handle .32 calibre Colt pistols and .303 calibre rifles.

1966 Commissioner Spencer disbands the women's division and directs that policewomen be employed on all general policing duties.

1974 Permission is given for the optional extra of long leather boots to be worn with the short and fashionable uniform skirts.

1977 The debate about whether policewomen should be allowed to wear trousers begins.

1985 Constable Lorraine Parkinson (93 Wing) is the first mother to graduate from the Police College. Prior to this women with dependent children were not accepted as recruits.

2006 Policewomen statistics for this year include three Superintendents, 11 Inspectors, 16 Senior Sergeants, 98 Sergeants, 1048 Constables.

As of 30th April 2016, women comprised 32.19% of all New Zealand Police staff and 19.8% of constabulary staff.
By rank:
Constable 21.4%
Sergeant 11.6%
Senior Sergeant 11.4%
Inspector 12.3%
Superintendent 14%

-Source: http://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/75-years-women-police/looking-back/75-years-policewomen-firsts

- Bay of Plenty Times

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