Paulo Montino Segovia's fancy footwork has led him all the way from South America to policing in New Zealand's northernmost town.

Montino used to get paid to play professional football in Chile but now he's on the streets in Kaitāia after graduating from the Royal New Zealand Police College last year.

"I am originally from Chile, and grew up there. My whole life was based around football - I was always playing on the street with my friends, and every Christmas I would get five or six footballs.''

As a child, Montino (the name he uses for his surname) had two choices - to be a good person or a bad person. He chose, unlike some of his friends, to follow a good path in life, he says.

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"I wasn't good at school, so my parents told me to put my effort into football instead. Where I come from, football provides heaps of opportunities in life.

"Looking back now, there were either good choices or bad choices to make. Some of my friends are doing well, and some are in jail. But you choose what you want to do. I decided to make good choices because there aren't many options where I came from.

''My parents were really strict, they taught me to fight for what I wanted. I wasn't spoilt, but I had everything that I needed because I worked for it, including my application for the police.

"I had a job offer to play football in New Zealand when I was 23, so I came to Auckland for six months, and then another club asked me to join them for two more years. I played football and also coached in my mate's academy here in New Zealand.

"In 2010, I first came to Kaitāia coaching a holiday programme and I liked it. I put my hand up to come to Kaitāia every time it was offered," Montino says.

"At that point, I had friends in the police and they pushed me to apply to recruitment. Now although I had never thought about it, I went on some police ride-alongs and heard their stories. I like how every day is different, you never know what's going to happen in the next minute. You plan your day but you never know if you're going to get to do what you planned or not.

"Working in such a small town feels awesome that people call you by your name [Paulo] instead of 'officer'. I used to work as a PE teacher at seven different schools so you can imagine how many families I know up here in Kaitāia.

"Joining the police has been amazing," Segovia says. "At the beginning, paperwork is the most stressful thing ever but once you know what you doing it's okay.

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"If I was telling other kids to join the police, I would say go for it! The fact that you don't know what you'll have to deal from one minute to the next makes it the coolest job.

"I hear teenagers here in New Zealand saying how bad it is here, but they have no idea how good it actually is perhaps compared to some parts of South America. I know most of the kids here because of my work in football, but some are hanging around with the wrong people and that's when they get into trouble and I want to help change that.

"If kids have goals they need to do everything they can to achieve them, there shouldn't be any issues or barriers, just work for it and seek help to do that. It's easy to make excuses and give up but if you believe in your goals, you can achieve them and I can really help them do that I think, now that I am in the police.

"One of the best feelings in this job is when you see people faces when they are in need and they see you turn up and they are relieved to see the police - it's such a good feeling seeing that you make them feel safe."