The wagging tails and excited barks let you know you're in the right place when you show up for the National Police Patrol and Detector Dog Championships.

Over the last three days the top dogs from police, customs, corrections, aviation security and the army have all been put through their paces at the police dog training centre in Trentham, Wellington.

Deputy Police Commissioner Viv Rickard was there to present the trophies, and said it was an honour for the competitors just to be put forward for the championships.

"And I'm not talking like they do in the schools these days, it really is the best who are sent here.

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"If there was an offender who ran away and over a little seesaw, and then over a ramp, I think these guys would do really well.

Christchurch's Constable Craig Moore and four-year-old Oza are especially pleased to be taking the National Police Patrol Dog Championship trophy back to the South Island after a few years' absence. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Christchurch's Constable Craig Moore and four-year-old Oza are especially pleased to be taking the National Police Patrol Dog Championship trophy back to the South Island after a few years' absence. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"But truly, congratulations to even be here today."

Constable Craig Moore and four-year-old police dog Oza from Christchurch took out the highest overall score, as well as winning the William Rose Bowl for criminal work disciplines.

Moore said it took a lot of hard work, and a lot of support from family and co-workers, to get to the top.

"They test us on everything that we would face in an operational environment, so tracking, offender apprehension, searching for property and persons.

"[The win] hasn't really sunk in. I'm excited, it's been a goal of mine ever since I joined the dog section, and I'm totally ecstatic that I managed to achieve it today.

"It was a close race, fortunately I got there. I'd like to thank all the other competitors as well, because they're top blokes.

"[Oza] has high spirits, he enjoys work, he's definitely a police dog. He looks after me and does a good job for New Zealand Police."

Moore said it was particularly good to be bringing the trophy back to the South Island, as it was a few years since they'd won it.

National Coordinator Police Dogs, Inspector Todd Southall, said the standard across all the championship categories was very high.

"It's great to see the high calibre of all the championship finalists.

"They've worked extremely hard to get here and to win a title is pretty special.

"It reflects the work they do day and night keeping our communities and borders safe."

The top three police patrol dogs all scored over 1000 points, with only seven points separating the top two dogs and handlers.

Police dog Kea and handler, Senior Constable Ross Clarke from Auckland, won the Explosive Detector Dog competition and the AVSEC Shield.

The Narcotic Detector Dog title was taken out by Auckland-based Corrections Officer KT Thomas and Jesse.