Wanted: New Zealand police officer looking for an overseas adventure

By John Andrews

A New Zealander will become police chief on Pitcairn, one of the Pacific's most remote islands.

The decision to replace the tiny outpost's current law enforcement officer, a Briton, with a New Zealander is the result of a request from the British Government.

New Zealand police will advertise among their ranks soon for someone skilled in community and rural policing.

Pitcairn, a British overseas territory more than 5000km northeast of Auckland, has just 48 residents.

The numbers have already been boosted by other Kiwis - a teacher, a social worker and five contracted Corrections officers looking after Pitcairners serving prison terms for historical sex offences.

The islanders will find the New Zealand police man or woman in their midst about February.

Inspector Roly Williams, manager of overseas assistance programmes at police national headquarters, said: "There are some special challenges to the job. With the small numbers of people, everything that policing involves is going to be very personal."

The island's isolation could make things difficult at times but the assignment would be a great opportunity for a sole officer to make a difference while working in a small community, he said.

With no airstrip, the island's links to the outside world were restricted to radio, telephone, the internet and occasional passing cruise ships.

The British Government asked Helen Clark's Administration and Police Commissioner Howard Broad for the 12-month secondment of an officer, basing the request on New Zealand's good reputation for community policing.

New Zealand's connections to Pitcairn influenced the move. The territory's governor is the British High Commissioner to Wellington and much of the general administration is done at the Pitcairn Islands Office in Auckland.

British Ministry of Defence personnel previously acted as police officers on the island until the switch to a civilian officer.

Mr Williams said the incumbent's NZ successor would become a sworn constable under existing British legislation for the territory and under the control of the island's British administration. Britain would meet most of the costs.

"We are talking with the British about the establishment of a purpose-built police station so that everyone knows where the officer is," he said.

The successful applicant for the post will fly to Gambier Island, via Tahiti, to board the New Zealand-based MV Braveheart, a 41m charter vessel, for the three-day voyage to Pitcairn.

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