Police Minister Mark Mitchell can’t sack Andrew Coster on his own volition because the police commissioner is a statutorily appointed official under the Policing Act 2008, and under section 12, is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and serves “at the pleasure of the Governor-General.”
Coster was appointed commissioner on April 3, 2020 after recommendations from the State Services Commission to Police Minister Stuart Nash and Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern. Coster was a deputy police commissioner, and at the time considered an outside chance for the position which ends on April 2, 2025.
“The Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, appoint a fit and proper person as the Commissioner of Police for a term not exceeding five years. The Commissioner holds office at the pleasure of the Governor-General,” the act says.
The State Service Commission panel, in a confidential briefing paper wrote: “We propose the Prime Minister recommends to the Governor-General the appointment of Andrew David Coster for the role of Commissioner of Police, for the term of five years.”
The six-person panel had interviewed the candidates and compiled a short list. From that list, they made their final recommendation of Coster, which was approved by Ardern and then Governor-General Dame Patsy Reedy.
Coster was appointed commissioner following the retirement of Mike Bush - who did two three year stints as the country’s top cop. Bush now works as a private investigator and manages an international consultancy firm specialising in leadership consulting, risk management and security.
Since leaving police, Bush has led the independent review into Auckland Council’s emergency management system and preparedness following the 2023 Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods and the Oranga Tamariki’s review of the organisation’s youth justice facilities.
Should Coster reapply for another term as commissioner, his name would go to the State Services Commission, to be vetted alongside other candidates.
Coster has had a varied and steady rise up the ranks.
He joined the police in 1996 and worked across all policing in the Counties-Manukau and Auckland City districts, including as a detective 1996-2003. He was the Auckland Area Commander from 2009 to 2013, the Auckland Armed Offenders Squad commander from 2011-2013, Southern Police District Commander from 2013-2015, the Ministry of Justice deputy’s chief executive 2016-2018 and had police Deputy roles from 2018-2019.
Should Coster decide to look outside the police after his five-year term, he might consider a career in law. In 2004, Coster graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the University of Auckland and that same year admitted as a barrister and solicitor to the High Court.
After a stint with Auckland Crown prosecutors Meredith Connell, Coster returned to the police ranks.