A love of motorbikes inspired a top Tauranga police officer to make road safety his life's work and he has now been recognised for it.

Western Bay of Plenty road policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit or his services to police and the community.

He was one of three Tauranga police officers rewarded for their services in the New Year Honours list released today.

Mr Campion, 60, said he was "over the moon" to learn he had been selected for the award.


"Obviously I'm blown away by the award and humbled at the same time. Also, I think it's a reflection not just on me but a reflection on what the road safety team in the Western Bay of Plenty have achieved over the years."

Engineers from the New Zealand Transport Agency and councils also contributed to improved road safety in the region, he said.

Mr Campion was raised in Malawi, Central Africa and spent four years working in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in the the British South Africa Police before moving to New Zealand in 1974.

"My interest was in enforcement and I loved motorcycles I always had. I'd had a motorcycle since I was 16."

It was a natural progression to put his two interests together and join the Ministry of Transport in 1975, he said.

Mr Campion worked as a training officer for Ministry of Transport recruits for five years and was the sub area-controller for Rotorua until traffic officers were merged into the police force in 1992.

Since then he has worked in Rotorua, Auckland Central and Henderson. He also took a two-year break from the police to run a Muffin Break franchise with his wife Deirdre.

In 2004 the father of two became officer in charge of road policing for the Western Bay of Plenty.

He has seen the average annual death toll in the Western Bay drop from 25 to 11, with only eight deaths in 2012 the lowest road toll in more than 30 years.

He developed the Winter Action Plan in 2010, which contributed to a 38 per cent drop in crashes on the State Highway network with no fatalities in the winter months of last year.

Mr Campion was also one of the driving forces behind the Youth Anti Drink Drive Expo for secondary schools and initiated Operation Shanks' Pony to target recidivist traffic offenders.

He was deployed to Bougainville in 2010 to develop traffic strategies and to improve the operational and strategic capability of the Northern Region Commander and volunteered at the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok to assist 550 stranded New Zealanders when Bangkok Airport was shut down in 2008.

Mr Campion said he had enjoyed all his roles but the most rewarding was his work at the traffic college.

"You've got the opportunity to mould recruits. When you see them fronting up at the first day to when they graduate, there was a huge amount of satisfaction.

"The biggest thing for me is I really love working with people. I really rate the Western Bay police, the Tauranga police and my road policing team. That's what gives me the the buzz, that's what drives me."

Mr Campion said he considered retirement every now and then but would not be giving up his job just yet.

"I really enjoy what I do. While I can still contribute effectively I'll probably hang in there for a year or two."