NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop goes on the beat in search of our favourite TV police officers..

Over the decades New Zealand has assembled an elite squad of television police. Amongst the following prime suspects are a real life celebrity sergeant, our first drama detectives, and some well-known Kiwi actors who have gone undercover in the name of fighting screen crime.

On a routine late night patrol, local police officer Guy Baldwin was investigating a potential car thief when he stumbled into a situation that would catapult him to worldwide fame. His resulting utterance - "always blow on the pie" - earned our police force global attention, and simultaneously turned an Auckland sergeant into a food safety hero.

See Police Ten 7 - Always Blow on the Pie here:

Debuting in 1999 across three tele-movies, Lawless gave late actor Kevin Smith one of his biggest roles. Smith played undercover cop turned private investigator John Lawless, struggling with life in the underworld in the award-winning series.

See excerpts from Lawless here:

Known for his comedic skills, Oscar Kightley (bro'Town, Sione's Wedding) more than earned his dramatic chops playing TV3's Harry. The gritty crime series followed Detective Sergeant Harry Anglesea, on a quest to clean up the P-infested streets of Auckland while coming to terms with solo parenthood in the wake of his wife's suicide. Despite it's bleak subject matter, the show earned much critical acclaim, prompting John Campbell to tweet: "Not remotely suitable for kids. But nor are many excellent things."


Watch episode one of Harry here:

While its pace may have been a little slower than Harry's, Mortimer's Patch proved hugely popular in the 80s. Our first ever police drama was set in the sleepy town of Cobham, where city cop Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) had recently returned to his rural roots. Any thoughts of a cushy community constable gig would soon be squashed, thanks to a three series-long crime wave.

A big smoke cousin to Mortimer's Patch, Shark in the Park was NZ's first urban cop show. Set within an inner city Wellington police unit, the series focused on the working lives of officers. Among the cast was Outrageous Fortune's Robyn Malcolm, appearing in her first screen role.

See an episode of Shark in the Park here:
Shark in the Park - Lamb to the Slaughter

Never one to miss a send-up opportunity, Billy T James was responsible for perhaps our favourite on-screen cop. Turangi Vice saw James and co-star Peter Rowley bringing a touch of 80s Florida to the central plateau, donning pastel suits and shades to fight illegal whitebait trafficking and much more.

You can find Turangi Vice at approx. 3:30 into segment three of The Best of The Billy T James Collection, here:
The Best of The Billy T James Collection
See more of New Zealand's TV Cops here, in NZ On Screen's Spotlight collection.