Kyra is the Rotorua Daily Post's police, emergency and court reporter.

Relay marks 75 years of women on force (+video)

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From members of the public asking police women if they are able to drive a police car on their own, to police women recruiting new members, things have sure changed over the years.

Rotorua Sergeant Pauline Jones is the longest serving police woman in Rotorua and after 25 years in the job she says her passion has not waned.

"I like the different types of jobs we attend, the variety, the camaraderie, the people I work with is probably the most important thing, and it's being able to help people."

To celebrate the 75 years women have had in the service a police staff torch relay is being run around New Zealand and will arrive in Rotorua this Friday.

"Throughout the Bay this is something we are really looking forward to celebrating and acknowledging those who have come before us, how hard they've worked, the growth is really important to us."

Mrs Jones said the service had changed a lot.

"When I first joined I went to fill the car up and I got asked, was I allowed to drive the police car on my own? Even patrolling, walking around on the beat, I was asked 'where was my partner?'."

But she said colleagues had always been supportive and management had given her lots of support and encouragement.

For about seven years Mrs Jones was the police recruiter for the Bay of Plenty.

She said police often had to deal with extreme situations where they saw people at their worst, but overall it had been a "great" career and she would "absolutely" encourage other women to join.

"It brings out the best in people."

One of the women Mrs Jones recruited over the years was Senior Sergeant Nicky Riordan, now the officer in charge of road policing.

"As women we have fought for many years to be treated as equals," Ms Riordan said.

She said a lot had changed since she started, "we used to wear skirts".

Ms Riordan said Mrs Jones had done a lot for the service, including finding some of the best women who were now on the job.

Friday's torch relay:

* 8.30am: The torch will be driven through Murupara, cycled to Eight Mile Gate, mountain biked through the Redwood Visitors Centre, run to Rotorua police station.

* 1pm: An afternoon tea with retired, past and present staff and Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick will be held at Rotorua Station.

* 1.45pm: The relay starts again with the torch being marched from the station to the Lakefront where it'll be kayaked to Bennetts Rd, from there it will be run from Kawaha Point to Skyline Skyrides.

* 3.35pm: Torch taken on some luge rides, including by District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor.

* 4.30pm: Torch driven to Te Matai Rd where it will be handed over to Tauranga staff.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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