New Zealand police plan to recruit staff from Singapore to overcome a shortage in the force and help Labour to fulfil its election deal with NZ First to appoint 1000 new officers.
An agreement has been reached in principle between the police commissioners of the two countries for New Zealand to recruit officers from the island nation.
The police development manager for Auckland, Inspector John Mitchell, said the force had looked at Asian countries with a shared colonial heritage, including Hong Kong and Malaysia, to meet the need for more Asian officers.
"Singapore has a similar-size force serving the same population, and also their policing ethos is remarkably similar to ours," he said.
"Being from a multicultural city, Singaporean police officers will also have the language and cultural understanding capabilities to help improve our Asian responsiveness."
The Herald understands processes are in place for a recruitment drive at a later date. Police have been recruiting from Britain since 2003.
Mr Mitchell said officers from Singapore would be recruited in groups of 20 and would probably go through a 10-week conversion programme similar to the one for British recruits.
Labour committed to recruiting 1000 more police officers as part of its confidence and supply agreement with NZ First after the last election.
But NZ First has also suggested limiting Asian immigration.
The party's law and order spokesman, Ron Mark, said "the news sits well with New Zealand First".
Bringing in officers from Singapore was different, because they would be "quality Asian immigrants".
"We would be concerned if recruiting was done in countries which are low on the corruption index."
A spokesman for Police Minister Annette King said: "We have had discussions about the possibility because we want to get more Asian police to speak Chinese, so that's one of the arms of our recruitment. But although there has been discussions there is no active recruiting at the moment."
If it was to happen, however, the minister would support the move.
"If that happened we'd be recruiting very experienced police who could speak Chinese."
* The Asian population is expected to grow faster than any other. It will increase by 3.4 per cent annually and reach 790,000 by 2026, says Statistics New Zealand.
* Last year's police annual report says only 1.6 per cent of police staff are of Asian descent and the force is struggling to recruit from ethnic communities.