An award-winning portrait by Kāpiti artist Marcus Ebbett depicting a police dog more famous than most officers has found a new home at the New Zealand Police Museum.

"The museum is a fantastic final destination and home for my painting Constable Rob Eastham with Ike," Mr Ebbett said.

Established in 1908 the collection was modelled on Scotland Yard's Black Museum and now houses a large collection of New Zealand Police cultural property and criminal cases.

Rob Eastham with Ike now hangs in prime position at the start of the dog handler section of the museum.

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The painting was a finalist in the 2018 Adam Portraiture Awards and received a People's Choice Award.

Constable Rob Eastham with Ike by Marcus Ebbett.
Constable Rob Eastham with Ike by Marcus Ebbett.

It then toured New Zealand for a year and has been displayed in Ebbett's Rosetta Rd studio until his wife contacted the museum to see if they were interested in the piece.

The painting depicts Constable Eastham, a member of the Porirua Public Safety Team and Wellington AOS, with police dog Ike who died in January.

Ike served as a police dog for 12 years as a "frontline veteran and fearless catcher of bad guys".

He was a star of the reality TV show Dog Squad and also tested the MAKO stab-proof dog vest and helped road test the latest police dog vehicles.

Ike in 2016 modelling the then-new Mako harness.
Ike in 2016 modelling the then-new Mako harness.

"In his twilight years Ike appeared at lots of meet-and-greets and was an all-round good boy before passing away peacefully after his usual morning walk on January 5," Mr Ebbett said.

When Mr Ebbett decided to paint a police officer in uniform for his pending entry to the Adam Portraiture Awards, Mr Eastham volunteered and upon meeting at a Children's Cancer Foundation event where police had a number of dogs, Ike was also included in the portrait.

"I thought it would be striking to paint the uniform but I had to get permission first," Mr Ebbett said.

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Kāpiti artist Marcus Ebbett with a painting of Raumati Village he is currently working on. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Kāpiti artist Marcus Ebbett with a painting of Raumati Village he is currently working on. Photo / Rosalie Willis

"I contacted the police, my request went through to the higher ranks, made it to the top and I was given permission."

By this stage he only had a short time to get the portrait painted to enter on time.

When Mr Ebbett asked Mr Eastham if there was anything he wanted included in the painting, Mr Eastham suggested the White Ribbon, symbolising anti-violence against women and children.

Not usually allowed the White Ribbon on his chest when on duty in uniform, it was a special interest of Mr Eastham's having been part of teams that deal with family violence.

The portrait took a couple of months after waiting for permission from the police, along several sessions with Mr Eastham in the studio before it was completed.

"I took lots of photos the first day I met him to get the composition right and then he came back about four times so I could paint him in his uniform in the studio," Mr Ebbett says.

"I'd call him up and ask him if he could come around today and he'd be like 'I'm just running through the bush after somebody can I call you back?' so it took a little time."

Although Mr Ebbett thought Mr Eastham was slightly "weirded out" seeing a painting of himself, Mr Eastham said: "Marcus is a very gifted artist and the level of detail in the portrait is amazing".

"Ike was also happy to sit for the portrait — he is an awesome dog and is very successful operationally."

Mr Eastham said after Ike died, the museum thought it would be extra special to display the painting.

"They thought it was a great painting, especially as Ike was in it."

Doing well in the Adam Portraiture Awards, Mr Ebbett also received a highly commended award in this year's awards for his self-portrait Marcus.

The New Zealand Police Museum is open every day from 10am-5pm and Mr Ebbett's studio opposite Rosetta Cafe on Rosetta Rd is also open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am-2pm or by appointment.

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