A former Levin policeman who won an award for bravery after helping save a Hokio Beach woman from a fire has now landed his dream job in the force.

Constable Regan Woodmass, 31, who attended schools in Levin as a youngster, recently graduated as a police dog handler with his crimefighting partner Taylor.

Woodmass was given Taylor, who turns 2 years old on Monday, from a foster family in Wellington and the pair had been together the last eight months.

He said Taylor was showing plenty of promise but would only get better with experience on the job.


"You can't expect too much too early in the piece. You can train and train and train all the time but the real world is different, and there is an adjustment period for the dog team," he said.

"We've been to heaps of events now and been deployed on a number of occasions and found offenders ... he's still learning though. It's early days. He's still learning the game."

Taylor lives with the Woodmass family and gets on well with his children.

"At home he's just a big puppy. He loves pats - he's always rubbing his head against the kids for pats.

"They become a member of your family. I know guys that have lost dogs ... and that's big."

Woodmass, who started his career as an officer in Levin where he spent five years, naturally gravitated to the dog side of the force when the opportunity arose.

After talking to a Palmerston North dog sergeant about his aspirations, he initially was given potential trainee pups to raise in his own home in his own time, which only strengthened his resolve to become a police dog handler.

"It just interested me and it was a thrill to see them excel. Also, I'm an outdoors person and didn't want to be stuck behind a desk," he said.


Although Woodmass hadn't had a dog for a pet growing up - he did have a family cat - he found he had a natural affinity with the animal.

He had spent countless hours with five pups that he was originally assigned, helping them head in the right direction to meet the tough criteria required to make the grade as a police dog.

Not all dogs made the grade though, for various reasons. Some were medically unfit and rehomed, while others, like the very first one that he had called Flex, who was found to have an aversion to shiny floor surfaces.

Another dog he had was called Nua, after his home town, who was now an operational dog working in Palmerston North.

Meanwhile, Woodmass hit headlines in 2013 when he and two others entered a burning Hokio Beach house to look for a woman they believed was inside.

He, fellow officer Michael O'Hagan, and member of the public Dion Taniwha all received bravery awards in 2015 for their efforts.

Woodmass and O'Hagan had originally arrived to arrest her, but ended up trying to save her life. She had refused to open the door when they arrived, so they were forced to break the front door down.

They searched the house, but were twice forced back by the heat of the blaze. They were then joined by Taniwha, calling out the woman's name as the house began to collapse around them.

But after an extensive search of the inferno they were relieved to find the woman safe and hiding in the bushes in the backyard. She was evetually charged with willfully setting fire to the property.

After leaving school in the sixth form Woodmass had originally became a fully-qualified mechanic for eight years and worked in the trade in Auckland for six years.

But joining the police was always in the back of his mind.

"It was just the excitement and the interaction with people that attracted me, and being able to help others," he said.

"I've always been one that likes to help others, and stop bad people of course."

His five years in Levin also included a summer in sole charge of the Waitarere Beach station.